Confusing personnel actions at LBJ hospital just keep on coming
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Dr Victor Terenuku Tofaeono is expressing his disappointment after his nomination to serve on the hospital board was rescinded.
This was confirmed in a letter addressed to Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga dated March 26, 2023.
“I am writing to protest the manner in which you handled my recent nomination to the Board of the LBJ Tropical Medical Center.
“Your actions were very demanding and humiliating for me as a member of the community and as a professional in the practice of medicine. You first informed the media that I was nominated to the Board without discussing the matter with me, and then you had someone in your office call me that you had changed your mind about nominating me to the Board,” said Tofaeono.
As reported earlier Dr Tofaeono was nominated by Lemanu to replace Malouamaua Dr. P. Tuiolosega, who is serving as Chairman of the hospital board, pursuant to Article IV, Section 7 of the Revised Constitution of American Samoa and Sections 4.01 I2(a) and 13.0103 of the American Samoa Code Annotated.
According to Lemanu, Malouamaua Dr. Tuiolosega’s term expires in March.
This was confirmed in Lemanu’s letter to the Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean dated March 6, 2023, nominating Dr. Tofaeono.
However this week, reports from the governor’s office is that the decision has been rescinded, and the governor’s office officials allegedly wrote to the Senate President asking the Senate “to hold off” on Tofaeono’s nomination.
According to Tofaeono’s letter, people on the street were stopping him with congratulations for being a board member because they heard on the news that he was nominated.
“This was without a word from you to me that you even wanted me on the board. But since it was all over the news media I thought you must have looked into my background as a doctor and former prominent member of the LBJ medical staff and decided I would be ok to be on the Board.
“I expected to at least get a phone call from you to confirm your decision, but thought you were too busy to do so.
“I heard that the Fono would call me for a hearing, and I concluded that you planned to talk to me after that.
“However, when I least expected it, I was called at home by a member of your office that you had changed your mind about my nomination.”
Dr Tofaeono says this was puzzling.
“Why did the Governor change his mind after announcing to the media that I was nominated?
“Why didn't the Governor just pick up the phone and call me about his mind change?
“The answers [that] I concluded were very humiliating and embarrassing to say the least.
“First, I thought the Governor found out some derogatory information about me, my reputation in the community, or my tenures as a member of the LBJ Medical Staff Board long ago, or my family.
“Second, the Governor just did not care about my feelings and it was not important to call me personally to let me know why I am not suitable to be a board member.
“You don't know much about me because I retired before you became a governor,” said Tofaeono. Adding that he has served the people of American Samoa for many years.
“My father was a doctor for the LBJ Hospital before me. I was sent to school by the American Samoa Government and when I finished my training as a surgeon I returned and worked at LBJ for 6 years before joining USAF.
“I was recruited by the USAF as a major and promoted below the zone to the rank of Lt. Colonel. I left the USAF and went into private surgery practice in Las Vegas in 1981.
“I returned to American Samoa as Chief Surgery in 2000 and retired in 2008.
In 2002 I received a large grant from the National Cancer Institute to the local Cancer Coalition to promote cancer awareness and preventive health care.
“I brought new techniques to the surgery staff at LBJ which included endoscopic procedures.
“When I retired in 2008 I was a respected member of the medical staff. I was selected as Chief of Medical Services in 2006 and served in the position for 2 years.”
Dr Tofaeono said in that time he’s learned a great deal more about health-care issues including financing and staff development.
“I am 84 years old and don't know how long my good health will continue. However, I feel certain that I could have made some good contributions to the Board of the LBJ Hospital.
“Sorry that I [sic] will not come to fruition.”
In early March, Lemanu said that since graduating from Boston University, Dr. Tofaeono’s professional life ha been dedicated to serving the people of American Samoa. He listed Dr Tofaeono’s “medical expertise” as the reason he would make an outstanding member of the LBJ Board
Lemanu urged the Senators to review and confirm the nomination of Dr. Victor Terenuku Tofaeono to the American Samoa Medical Center Board of Directors.
Prior to Dr Tofaeono’s nomination, a total of four separate letters addressed to Governor Lemanu for his consideration, urged him to reappoint Malouamaua Dr. P. Tuiolosega, as well as the vice chair of the LBJ Board, Dr Jean Anderson.
Last Monday, the Senate approved the appointment of Dr Aifili John Tufa to replace Dr Anderson on the LBJ board. Dr Anderson’s term will end on March 30, 2023.