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Acting CEO is looking to telehealth to augment LBJ Hospital services

 Dr. Akapusi Ladua

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In an effort to counter the hospital’s “reputation” of being compelled to send patients off island for treatment, acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akapusi Ledua says his goal is to minimize the off island referral by 70 percent and he zeroed in on telehealth services to accomplish this.

“I don't see any reason why we should travel off island when we have a hospital that we should work on building up and providing the services and the care in this hospital; so that our people will be treated here on island,” said Ledua when he appeared before the Senate hearing yesterday.

According to Ledua the Samoan people don’t like treatment overseas.

 “And the reason why they are going overseas is because the service is not provided. So my goal right now is to expand the services, improve the services, and expand the services based on the reasons why people are going off island.”

Dr Ledua zeroed in on telehealth services to enable the hospital to connect with other physicians.

“This would allow them to exchange ideas with specialist and we started that late last year. We are working on getting connected to Queens hospital in Hawaii and form [a] telephone initiative project that will take care of our people locally.”

He said this was piloted in the ICU for stroke patients to get first hand treatment and advice and it was a success.

 “We are looking at expanding to patients with heart problems,” explained Ledua. 

Earlier on, the Acting CEO said the hospital’s mission this year is to take care of our people.

 “It is to make sure that we provide a care that is of high quality, that is safe, and that is comprehensive and one that our people need.

 “And that is mission of our hospital; to meet the needs of our people,” he said.

According to Ledua, in moving forward there are a few critical issues in the hospital they have already addressed.

 “At this moment we have secured a few contracts where we will be getting nurses from Philippines, who will come and build up the nursing profession. That is one of the critical issues and needs right now.”

He said the second critical issue is the wait time in the Emergency Room.

“We have a clinic that is open next to the emergency room during the most busiest hours from 4pm to 8pm and the weekends.

 “We are evaluating the waiting time of the non-urgent clinic. If there is a need to modify, we are going to do, so that we can meet the needs of our people and reduce the waiting time.

As for Clinical Services, the hospital has hired a new Chief Medical Officer, Dr Joseph Shaumway, to address clinical issues in terms of patient care.

 “As I said, as physicians we are looking at producing and providing the care to meet the mission and the vision of the hospital.”

According to Dr Ledua, moving forward they have a new Human Resources Director — Ms. Rowena Reid — who will be improving personnel within the hospital.