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Gov pleads case for new hospital with U.S. Senate committee

It’s unclear if he is talking about replacing LBJ or a new Tafuna location

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — “We need a new hospital,” Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga told the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources during a hearing on the state of U.S. territories, and noted that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had recommended that American Samoa build a new hospital.

“American Samoa is very fragile with its infrastructure,” he said and shared with the committee that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer had visited the territory a few times and has made the recommendation. He also pointed to a report by the Army Corps.

As previously reported by Samoa News, the Army Corps in April 2019 — per request by the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs — conducted an assessment of the condition of LBJ Medical Center.

The assessment covered estimating the cost of renovating and modernizing the current facility, constructing a new facility, and whether a renovated facility would have sufficient capacity to meet American Samoa’s needs.

In it’s final report, the Army Corps provided options, including the construction a new multi-story hospital (150,000 square feet) on the current LBJ campus.

The estimated cost for this option varies from $375 million to $425 million, depending upon the course of phasing to ensure minimal disruptions to the current facilities and accessibility. This would entail the construction of a new facility in compliance with current building code and hospital accreditation criteria. 

Another option provided by the Army Corps is to construct a new multi-story hospital (150,000 SF) on a proposed site on the western side of the Tutuila. The estimated cost for a new hospital is between $325 million and 390 million. This would entail the construction of a new facility in compliance with current building code and hospital accreditation criteria. (Full details of the Army Corps report online:

In his written testimony to the U.S. Senate committee, the governor pointed out that LBJ is the only hospital in American Samoa and was built in 1968.

“We will need help from the federal government to construct a new facility and respectfully seek your assistance in providing federal dollars for the construction,” he said.

According to the governor, the territory is now in the planning stages for a new healthcare facility that will improve the delivery of health care in American Samoa and will help to provide specialized medical services for residents,

“Our goal is to reduce our reliance on off-island medical referrals and build our local capacity to provide quality and comprehensive medical care for our population on island,” he explained.

“Expanding the medical services available in the territory will also improve access to medical services needed by our sizable veteran population that are forced to seek medical attention off- island,” he said. “We need to attract and hire medical doctors and specialists, nurses, and staff to help serve our people.”

“I hope we can more effectively tap into the workforce that may be available through the Public Health Service program,” he said.

“Currently many specialty medical cases must be flown off island for treatment but a new hospital would help address many of the gaps in our health care system by providing, for example, state-of-the-art diagnostic and operating theaters and oncology services currently not available on island,” he added.

Samoa News notes that there was no clarity in the governor’s written and verbal testimonies on whether a new hospital is to be build on the current LBJ site or whether a proposed new $21 million 40-bed hospital will be built in Tafuna.