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LBJ’s new Chief Medical Officer lays out his plans for improvement

Dr Joseph Shumway

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Chairman of the LBJ Hospital Board, Dr Malouamaua Tuiolosega yesterday shared with Samoa News correspondence outlining new Chief Medical Officer Dr Joseph Shumway’s plans for healthcare at LBJ hospital.

This comes after reports of an alleged petition by some senior LBJ doctors working to remove the current board, over the appointment of the new CMO and also the resignation of two senior doctors last week.

(See separate story in this issue.)

In an email dated January 29, 2023 and addressed to Vice Chair of LBJ board, Dr Jean Anderson, Dr Shumway made promises that upon completion of orientations he will conduct a top to bottom review of the facility and all of its departments using the Joint Commission accreditation standards currently in use.

“I will formally present those findings to the Board and other interested parties to ensure that we are all on the same page.

“We need to first understand our current status and then we can prioritize our time and capital investments to achieve the greatest improvements.

“This will mark the start of our upward journey of growth and improvement. Development of a mutually agreed strategic plan is critical for the future success of LBJ.

“I will also hold town hall meetings with all of the medical staff to capture needed improvements and ideas to create a new culture of change and engagement in the LBJ medical staff.

“I will listen to them, help them and also find mutually agreed ways to make them accountable for their work.  I am a firm believer of 'Patient Centered Care’.”

According to the email, Dr Shumway plans on engaging with the Health Department to collaboratively work to improve the health metrics of all the islands of American Samoa.

“This needs patient and physician engagement and I will need your Samoan health authority's support in finding a way to do this in a culturally sensitive way.

“Educational liaisons with your nursing and medical training institutions will be a high priority as will forging relationships with local high schools to provide volunteers who are interested in health care careers.

“This is a key to building the quality and capacity of the Samoan health care system. It is of vital strategic importance for the future of Samoa.

“There is much to be done and I will earnestly work to develop and maintain a warm and collaborative relationship with the Samoan senate and the administrative branches of the Samoan government. We will need a tight collaborative relationship to ensure enhanced health and better systems of care.

“I look to develop a responsive clinic and hospital system which places the patient at the center. High quality patient-centered health care is a right for all the people of Samoa.

Furthermore, Dr Shumway’s outlines his plans for the hospital citing that it is vital to ensure that a continuing number of doctors, nurses will be available to replace retiring physicians and nurses.

“For now, the policy should center on sending five students annually as long as funding is available from the ASG Governor's Initiative for Medical Physicians.”

He confirmed that he aims to lead and to collaborate with the CEO, CNO, Nursing School Administrator, and the President of the American Samoa Community College to make sure that the Nursing Program is fully functioning with regard to maximum enrollment and full number of nurse graduates.

“To lead and coordinate with the supervisors of the Imaging Department, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Respiratory/Cardio, Ophthalmology, ESRD/Dialysis, and other areas of LBJ to make sure that the training programs (on-island, or off-island) to provide training for all technologists/technicians to assure full compliance with all health standards.

“To lead in the continually assess the sufficiency and effectiveness of our formulary to ensure access by patient to new drugs deemed to have maximum treatment efficacy for certain ailments.

“To lead in the research and develop a plan to see if LBJTMC can provide a phase of the cancer treatment regimen such as chemo-therapy so our people do not have to travel off-island for these procedures.”

“Assist in the recruitment of U.S. Certified Providers, Board medical physicians (MD), and to assist with medical professional development for staff and to ensure all clinics at LBJ are covered with services are currently being offered.

“And all other duties tasked by the Governing Board of Directors within the scope of a CMO.”

Dr Shumway said in the email to Dr Anderson that he hopes to expand the use of Telemedicine to assist physicians with diagnosing patients and from which effective treatment plans can be fashioned and in turn reciprocally create a positive outcome.

“While we accept the fact that death is a part of life, and often justify the death of a patient as the ‘Will of God’, it is our charge that every effort will be made in terms of full exhaustion of all available medical options will be rendered. The CMO will collaborate with the staff to define the standard of acceptable mortality.”

Dr Shumway’s three-year contract, which was signed on January 29, 2023 cites that his salary base is $220,000.