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LBJ and DoH team up to ease the long wait at the emergency room

DoH-LBJ press conference

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In an effort to minimize the long waits at the LBJ Emergency Room, the Department of Health has opened an outpatient clinic at their compound in Faga’alu.

This is a collaborative effort between the DoH and the LBJ hospital to “help relieve the overcrowding of our LBJ emergency room,” said the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Moefaauo Bill Emmsley during a joint press conference with DoH on Tuesday.

Moefaauo said the emergency room has seen a remarkable rise in numbers of patients seeking emergency services, 24-7.

 “However we have discovered that on average, 65 percent of all those visiting the ER are considered non-urgent cases and those kinds of cases, we believe fit the role of the Department of Health.

 “These are primary care cases and non-urgent cases.

 “Given it’s a standard rule for the LBJ that we never turn anyone away; so therefore we have asked the assistance of DoH in perhaps opening up some of the clinics to help the LBJ emergency room relieve the traffic; not only relieving the traffic but also shortening the visit times of patients and of course the frustration of those visiting the LBJ.”

Adding that they should define certain things for the public’s information.

 “Particularly what does it mean for emergency case, urgent case and non-urgent cases and hopefully by that definition the public will then determine which of the places they would visit,” explained Moefaauo.

He said the purpose of yesterday’s press conference was to inform the public before they visit the emergency room so there is no going back and forth in addition to their frustration of waiting long hours.

 “The ultimate goal of DoH and LBJ is to provide efficient, quality, safe and comfortable visits while they are visiting the DOH or LBJ. I know it has been frustrating and we have received a number of calls.

 “However this problem is not new it has been happening for a long time,” said the CEO.

Moefaauo then commended the DoH Director Motusa Tuileama Nua for lending a hand on this issue, which in turn benefits the residents of the territory.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ledua Akapusi explained this new process that defines the categories of a patient in order to determine whether to seek medical assistance from the LBJ emergency room or the DoH clinic.

According to Dr Ledua there are three categories the public needs to understand, the emergency care, urgent care and non-urgent care.

 “Out of the three non-urgent care and emergency care are self explanatory meaning if I have an emergency — I go straight to the emergency room.

“An example of emergency care is when you are physically injured and you need medical help straight away, you can call 911 due to the urgency of the care you need, such as shortness of breath, or someone loses consciousness or  is injured.”

He also explained what non-urgent cases are.

 “These are conditions that you can feel some changes in your body, but you don’t feel that sick that you need to see the doctor right away or you are uncomfortable, or curious with some of the conditions you have, such as lump on your leg getting bigger, or a skin condition that’s worsened in the last two days, a headache, mild cough or flu, these are all non-urgent cases and you should seek medical treatment at one of the DoH’s clinic,” explained Dr Ledua.

For urgent care, the Acting CMO says the patient can be seen at either the emergency room or the DoH clinic.

 “Urgent care is someone who is injured or sick but you are not afraid you are going to lose your life.”