Am. Samoa Health Dept., LBJ Hospital To See Improvements

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Hospital to roll out telemedicine system, facility expansions

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Jan. 20, 2014) – Positive change is in store for the LBJ Medical Center according to Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who noted in his State of the Territory address to American Samoa’s Fono that the hospital will soon implement its new Telemedicine System, and that system will be up and running by the middle of this year.

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will also be launching their new ambulance service in Manu’a, in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH) beginning this month.

These are some of the improvements for DOH and LBJ hospital announced by Governor Lolo at the Fono opening this past Monday.

The new ambulance is funded by the USDA grant, according to Lolo, who said the healthcare infrastructure is slowly being transformed by the formation of private healthcare providers, and a private healthcare clinic is now in operation.  He said this trend will accelerate during the year if the government’s current effort reaches fruition and the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) is approved.

The governor did not specify which private clinic he was referring to. "The different medical service components of the medical mall will be run by privative businesses with the cost of services eligible for Medicaid reimbursement," he noted.

The governor also was proud to state that the DOH had launched Operation Mata’ala, which entails orchestration and implementation of an exercise designed to demonstrate the capacity of the DOH and its partners to manage, receive, secure, store, stage, distribute and dispense the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) vaccines in a public health simulated exercise.

The governor also reported that the hospital has executed a partnership with the University of California-San Diego Medical School to administer a new Physician Assessment and Clinical Education (PACE) program to resolve the existing problem with local licensing of foreign-trained local physicians who currently treat patients under the supervision of a relatively small number of licensed medical staff. Successful completion of this year-long local workforce development program will also help resolve the territory’s licensed physician shortage, he said.

The new Telemedicine System he referred to will be implemented by the first half of 2014, with funding by the Hawai’i Chapter of the Shriners Foundation, to be used in collaboration with DOH, ASCC, WHO and various university and hospital partners such as Tripler Medicine, VA Health Care System, Queen’s Hospital System, Fiji National University, California System, Centers for Disease Control.  It is designated the Hawaii based Mountain Pacific Quality Review Organization and is part of LBJ’s new workforce development strategy.

The governor also noted that the hospital has a new pharmacy automatic refill system that has been successfully making the process much more streamlined and efficient, less labor intensive and cost effective, resulting in significantly lower waiting times for patients.

The hospital also reported that it has a new Dental Appointment system implemented to make dental visits more streamlined and efficient, and that the hospital has implemented successfully its lab improvements including new equipment and certified lab technologist training which resulted in federal re-certification and accreditation through 2016.


The hospital held two groundbreakings in December 2013, one for the construction of a state-of-the art Dialysis Unit renovation and expansion project, which is funded through Department of Interior, and slated to be completed by summer 2014. This expansion will double the current capacity, said the governor.

The other groundbreaking was for a new state-of-the art freestanding 10-bed inpatient/outpatient Forensic Mental Health Facility, designed to improve mental health services to DPS inmates but also to be certified by the federal government, as a Mental Health provider for the US Army Reserve, VA and Tri-Care beneficiaries with the aim of making this unit the highest skilled psychiatric facility in the entire South Pacific Region outside of Hawaii and New Zealand. The ground breaking for this facility was also conducted last year December.

The new Mental Health facility is being funded through DOI, DHSS, Veteran’s Administration, the AG’s Office and DPS.

The hospital is also in the process of completing the design phase of the Operating room, Labor and Delivery room, the Intensive Care Unit and NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit) renovation and expansion and these are slated to be completed by February 2015.

According to the governor, the hospital also launched its mammography services funded by a generous donation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The hospital is also in the process of purchasing and installing new CT-scanner, Ultrasound and Mobile X-Ray equipment.

This diagnostic equipment is expected to be completed and operational— including certified training of local radiology technologists— by March 2014, and funding is from DOI -supplied Capital Improvement Project funds. Lolo also pointed out that the hospital and DOH held a joint Medical and Dental Symposia— mainly focusing on NCDs and workforce development— and the first ever Clinical Skills fair was held in partnership with DOH and World Health Organization.

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