DOH manager responds to allegations and resigns
Being “bullied, belittled and defamed” were among the reasons cited by one of the Department of Health Managers, Susana Valoaga, in her resignation letter submitted last week Friday in response to DOH Director Motusa Tuileama Nua’s move to terminate her, along with two other DOH Managers — Aileen Solaita and Jacinta Tialavea.
Motusa cited insubordination as well other workplace violations in his letters to the three women, and gave each of them three days to respond; the deadline was Thursday, Sept. 17th. (see Sept.18, 2015 edition for full details).
Mrs. Valoaga, in her letter to Motusa, which she gave to Samoa News, responded to the DOH director’s recommendation for termination and also tendered her resignation.
RESPONSE TO DOH DIRECTOR’S ALLEGATIONS
Addressing the allegations by Motusa that she had been insubordinate and disrespectful to Program Director, Mrs. Margaret Sesepasara and continued to undermine his authority, Valoaga says they are not true. “In every meeting that I attended with DOH, I don’t recall ever disrespecting the program director.”
About his claim that Valoaga failed to assist in clearing the Home Visit AR of $700,00+ in grant funding, she points out that “you (DOH) have brought this (on) amongst yourselves by hiring all these people without consulting with grantors first.”
“Stipulations and restrictions are clear on the Notice of Award, that is to assure that each person listed on the Home Visit Budget should be devoting 100% effort with HV and not devoting any time or effort to any other grant program or activities. This grant also remains on draw down restriction,” Valoaga noted.
“When I moved to MCH, staff were already hired, and AR was already building; we have been trying to look at every avenue to resolve the issue,” she wrote.
She went on to say the Department of Human Resources played a huge role in accumulating the AR. “Where is HR in all of this now? They played a big role in the hiring process, this is what happens when HR gets to dictate how many people to hire and what funding to charge payroll, to when they don’t know the conditions these accounts are on.”
Valoaga also asked as to the role of Budget Office in the hiring. “They were supposed to review all paperwork and make sure that all should be in alignment with grant stipulations and approved budget.”
She alleges, “I don’t know how this process went, but now the AR is up to one million and I am getting the blame for it. Blamed for something I had no part in.”
Valoaga said, “I am very saddened that you have defamed my character by stating that I have not performed my duties and have not done work, when you, your deputy and director of nursing do not understand the extent of the work that we did for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Visiting (MIECHV.)”
She contends that it been less than a year since she was moved to Maternal Child Health, and “every grant report was never delayed and was successfully submitted.” She claims the program’s major accomplishment was that American Samoa was the only grantee out of the whole Region IX to expand and draw down the full million dollars awarded for FY12.
“We are now operating on another one million, which expires September 30, 2015, and we have successfully drawn down 80% of that million. As for expanding the program, the previous approved budget was for six people, we were able to expand the program to hire 47 people.” Valoaga said that she feels for those people who are truly conducting home visits and have really worked hard to get their data, given the numbers of clients and visits have tripled from last year and documentation has greatly improved.
“They have worked really hard carrying the weight of 100+ staff all over the department, (who are) doing security, maintenance, logistics and assisting in all clinics and are not doing home visit work.”
Valoaga said that they have been working very hard with grantors with their improvement plan, the report preparing the staff for accreditation next year, saying they also participated in the COIN project, and completed the report.
“We have made a lot of sacrifices for the program, long hours away from our families. Not to mention only making 12K a year to go through all this stress.”
She stated: “We are committed, and did it with a good heart, good deeds for the people. We didn’t care about being underpaid doing all this. I am very saddened by all this because the true victims … are truly the clients that we have been serving through home visits. TOO MUCH HARD WORK GONE UNNOTICED BECAUSE OF THESE (sic) POLITICAL AGENDA!!”
Regarding her request to be the “Authorized Organization Representative” for the Department without Motusa’a authorization, Valoaga pointed out that as an employee for the department and due to the work she does with grants, and that the request was to Motusa for his approval, it was “up to you to disapprove or approve. There is no law stating that I cannot sign in.”
Motusa in his recommendation to terminate letter also cites Valoaga’s __use of government building and equipment to launch a non profit organization called ABC (A Better Community) which she’s involved with.
Her answer is: “Yes, I am proud to say that I am one of the founders of A BETTER COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION.” In addition she claims that every meeting they’ve held was conducted out of the DOH office.
“We may have used the MCH office to store all medical and pharmaceutical supplies that were requested by MCH and donated by ABC, but these are the same supplies that were presented and donated to the Department of Health and gladly excepted by Doctor Tufa and Mrs. Fatima Langkilde on your behalf.
“We could have donated it to LBJ or other groups, but we chose to donate it to DOH because we see the need. The community needs our help, and if our non-profit organization reaches out to the people and provides the support that the government cannot offer, then ABC will gladly step in, on our own time and extend the support needed.”
Regarding Motusa’s allegations that she chose to favor a family business knowing it is against government policy on conflict of interest, Valoaga stated that “service was provided and you approved the invoice and it went through government process. If this was the case, you could have disapproved the invoice then, why now? There are other family businesses within the department, and I can list a few if you need me to provide a list.”
Motusa also states that Valoaga had failed to maintain positive control within the division and secure MCH/HV property, to which she responded that the purpose of the DOH Logistics Office is to continue to come around every 2- 3 months to conduct inventory. “They should be doing their job maintaining a positive control of all government property.”
(Samoa News should point out that the DOH director also cited continued undermining of his decisions as one of the reasons he was terminating Mrs. Valoaga, which is not directly addressed in her response to Motusa.)
Mrs. Valoaga explains she has worked for DOH for over five years, and “I have submitted finance reports, gathered all appropriate documentation for the Improvement plan, participated in meetings that can improve the Department and MCH program and more.”
Yet “recently, I have been treated like a criminal, bullied, belittled, defamed and not to mention, blamed for not being able to help pay for the employees under MCH programs.”
She continued, “I have learned so much in this field and sadly remove myself, as it is not a healthy environment, affecting my family and taking too much of my positive time.”
She thanked DOH for some of the positive learning experiences she has acquired. “There are positive people that I have come across while working within the Department and will truly miss them. I have a bright future ahead and will focus and commit to it. This letter will serve as my resignation letter effective immediately, September 17, 2015.”