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LBJ nurses get their overtime — finally

Photo of LBJ Hospital sign
Some threatened to 'walk out' if they didn't get checks this week

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — "Although it's hard to walk away from our patients, we have no choice but to take a stand because we have families to feed and bills to pay." These were the words of a frustrated nurse at LBJ Medical Center yesterday morning to Samoa News.

She said a number of nurses, including the 38 whose overtime hours were being questioned, were on the verge of 'walking out' if they didn't get their overtime checks, which were promised to them this past Tuesday.

Last week Friday, the usual payday for LBJ employees, several nurses contacted Samoa News, threatening to 'walk out' because overtime hours were being questioned.

One nurse said that after a couple of meetings last Friday — between LBJ administrators and higher ups in the nursing division — it was mentioned that the overtime for 38 nurses would not be paid, until a review was conducted. Afterwards, they were told that the nurses would get their overtime checks on Tuesday (this week).

Yesterday morning, Samoa News was contacted by at least 3 nurses who said that overtime checks still had not been issued, and they were seriously thinking about 'walking out', to 'protest' what they call 'unfair treatment.'

But by noon, Samoa News received information that all the nurses who were owed overtime hours had been paid. "It took us threatening to walk out, to get our overtime paid," said one nurse.

According to her, overtime for nurses shouldn't even be an issue, as they work 12-hour shifts and if someone from the next shift doesn't show up, they have to stay for another 12 hours. "There have been times when we've had to work more than 24 hours at a time," she said angrily.

"And when we call in sick, they tell us to drink a couple of Tylenol and report to work because there is a shortage of manpower," she continued. "They expect us to work around the clock and then they don't want to pay us? That's not fair!"

"We care for our patients. We do what we can to make sure they get their medication, check their vitals every hour, accommodate them, and it's hard for us to leave them hanging like that but we need to think about our families too. We hardly get any days off, and sometimes we get called in to work on our days off. We hardly see our families, and with no overtime, we have nothing to show for it. It's just not worth it," said another nurse, who added that this isn't the first time the issuance of overtime checks has been delayed.

According to her, it was during a meeting last week that LBJ Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Emau Amosa pointed the finger at LBJ Hospital CEO Faumuina John Faumuina who Samoa News understands, had already gone home and was therefore not present during that meeting.

Amosa allegedly said that he didn't approve any overtime, adding that he only deals with payroll, but has nothing to do with approving it.

One nurse who contacted Samoa News yesterday said they have been advised to keep a lid on what's happening at LBJ, and they are forbidden from talking to the media.

Samoa News notes that National Nurses Week was just celebrated from May 5- 10, locally. This year their theme was “4 million Reasons to Celebrate” and locally the celebration started with a church service at the LBJ Medical Center Chapel on Sunday.