American Samoa Budget Includes Funds To Study Feasibility Of New Hospital

Healthcare improvements at ‘top priority’ of administration

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, August 15, 2016) – The Lolo Administration is allocating funding for a feasibility study and design for a new medical center facility as well as money to provide support service to the LBJ Medical Center, which the governor says is currently faced with “financial challenges.”

The funds are allocated under the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget’s Special Programs category, overseen by the Governor’s Office.

According to the governor’s FY 2017 budget summary letter to Fono leaders, $300,000 will allow the funding of a feasibility study and design of a new medical center to move forward.

He says improvements to the territory’s healthcare services continue to be “one of our highest priorities” and it’s “our vision to have the best healthcare services available in the region for our residents.”

American Samoa having a new hospital has long been an issue which surfaces every year and even previous governors have pointed to the need for a new facility especially with the increased population and the current facility continuously in need of repairs.

STAFF DEVELOPMENT

Also allocated under Special Program is $100,000 that will help support staff training for the LBJ’s Dialysis Unit. The governor said that LBJ “is currently facing financial challenges due to cash flow and mandated federal compliance.”

And these challenges, he says, have made it difficult for the medical center to provide the necessary professional training for staff of the newly opened LBJ Dialysis unit. As the new extension of the dialysis unit opened with new equipment, staff training has been cited as mandatory requirements to be in compliance, he said referring to the US Center for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) citations.

OTHER ISSUES

The governor has also earmarked $100,000 to provide assistance for local students accepted to the Fiji School of Medicine to accommodate expenses for tuition and other related fees.

According to the budget summary letter, LBJ’s proposed FY 2017 budget stands at $44.12 million compared to the current FY 2016 approved budget of $40 million. And the government’s annual subsidy of $6 million is earmarked for the LBJ in the new fiscal year.

Lolo said the subsidy is to provide financial assistance to compliment the work of the LBJ board as well as the management of the medical center in an attempt to reduce the administrative cost component of providing healthcare services for local residents.

However, Samoa News points out that over the past years, there have been complaints from the hospital lodged with the Fono over the sometime long delays before LBJ receives the quarterly payments from the government.

Samoa News will report later this week on details of the LBJ FY 2017 proposed budget.

The Samoa News
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