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FCC report re-confirms the half-million dollars in telehealth funding for LBJ & DoH

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — An interim report released last week by the U.S Federal Communications Commission, analyzing how the Connected Care Pilot Program and the COVID-19 Telehealth Program impacted health care providers' use of telehealth services re-confirms the award and use of more than $500,000 by LBJ Medical Center and the Health Department.

LBJ and DoH were among the 446 awardees throughout the country that received funds for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program which helped health care providers respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting the purchase of telehealth equipment and related services that enable providers to offer new and more treatments via telehealth.

“Telehealth services supported by the COVID-19 Telehealth Program reimbursements were particularly effective for remote patient monitoring applications and treatment for behavioral health conditions,” said FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau.

The interim report, issued Mar. 21, reconfirmed that $334,519 in Telehealth Program funds was awarded to LBJ Medical Center and $187,297 to DoH’s Tafuna Family Health Center. Both awards were made in 2021 at the peak of COVID-19 while borders were closed.

Based on public documents with the FCC, LBJ filed three separate grant applications totaling $334,519 for telehealth funding. 

One request was  $147,600, for “High Capacity Internet Service for LBJ Hospital to accommodate telemedicine applications and use, due to closure of borders, and inability of patients or physicians to travel.

The second highest grant amount request was $105,840 for “Dedicated Internet Services Link to provide Ultrasound teleclinic sessions with OB/GYN Specialists in the state of Hawaii” and the third grant request, for $81,079 was to fund telecom services for internet and devices to allow for physicians exposed and infected with COVID-19 to continue to providing telehealth services in isolation or quarantine. 

For DoH, the funding request was for broadband, internet connection, local loop, mobile wifi, mobile wifi devices, tablets, and cell phones.

Telehealth service became very important during the pandemic when American Samoa first closed its borders in March 2020 and didn’t fully reopen until December last year.