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Medical professionals overwhelmingly support re-appointment of LBJ Board chair and vice chair

Dr. Malomatumua Tuiolosega
ER, Pediatrics,Physicians & Dentists, and Medical Missionaries sign letters of support

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The medical community is calling for the governor to re-appoint, the chairman of the LBJ Board of Directors Dr. Malomatumua Tuiolosega and the Vice-Chair Dr. Jean Anderson whose terms in office will end this month.

Several letters addressed to Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga appeal for his consideration, given the number of changes made by the board, including sacking of top officials in the hospital, such as the former Human Resources Director, Chief Financial Officer, the Ombudsman as well as the LBJ CEO resigning a result of ultimatums delivered by the board.

Doctors in the Emergency room signed a letter dated March 8, 2023 titled Strong Support of the current LBJ Board and Administration, that was addressed to Gov. Lemanu, Lt Gov. Talauega E. V. Ale, Cabinet directors, Senators and faipule of the House of Representatives.

 “Looking at the decade-long ongoing crisis at LBJ TMC that was not resolved under the previous Board of Directors and Administrative team, we would like to express our support of the current LBJ administrative team and Board of Directors [sic] actions.

“The previous key figures were removed from their positions and a few are now under investigation.

“On the team assignment, the board decided on Dr. Ledua in particular, who has been serving the American Samoa population over the past two decades and has completes [sic] his MBA in health system management.”

According to the ER doctors Dr Tuiolosega has been personally involved in the recruitment of physicians and nurses at a time that the nursing shortage was so critical leading to the nurse's walk out.

“The LBJ Emergency room is fully staffed, and that allowed us to create a non-emergency clinic to satisfy the ever growing needs of our vulnerable patients.

“Now we have top notch US board licensed physicians, narrow specialists, like spinal orthopedic surgeon, cardiologist and radiologist. Another cardiologist and a nephrologist have already signed their contracts and are on the way to LBJ TMC.

“The Board and new administration has [sic] successfully recruited and hired a high level health executive with credentials and experience way above anything that other candidates on the island may present. Dr. Shumway's contribution to LBJ and to the medical staff is going to be highly valuable in the next 3 and Y2 years.

“In addition, a new HR Director of Samoan descent has been hired and will assist in efforts to move LBJ forward.

“The Board and new administration has [sic] also secured financial consultancy services from a Pacific native who has extensive healthcare finance background, experience and credentials.”

Furthermore the present Board members are under leadership of Dr. Malouamaua Tuiolosega and Dr. Jean Anderson who are doing an excellent job in recovering our facility.

“This new administration still maintains predominantly Samoan born and raised leaders with the skills to act in a crisis situation and who have demonstrated a commitment to helping move LBJ forward.

“The physicians who have joined in the statement are appreciative of the changes at LBJ TMC and look forward to the continued changes ahead.

“The physicians support the current Board and LBJ TMC administration and plead with the American Samoa Governor and leaders of the Cabinet, Senate and House of Representative to maintain the current LBJ TMC Board and administration in order to move LBJ forward.”

The letter was signed by Dr. Dmitri Orleanski, MD — Internal Medicine; Dr. Sumeet Chand, MBBS — Emergency Room; Dr. Laudan Kotoitubou, MBBS — Emergency Room; Dr. Susana Pene, MBBS — Internal Medicine; Dr. Carrial Edward Leziton, MBBS — Emergency Room; Dr. Sitiveni Traill, MBBS — Orthopedic Clinic; Dr. Joselito De Leon, MD — Internal Medicine; Dr. Rosario Palo, MD — Internal Medicine; Dr. Gary Bernabe, MD— Radiology; Dr. Lavenia Inoke-Besetimoala, MBBS — Emergency Room; Dr. Roner R. Mendoza, MD— Emergency Room; Dr. Jerry T. Kena, MBBS — Internal Medicine; Dr. Kolinio Niumataiwalu, MBBS —Anesthesia; Dr. Ana Jane Bontia, MD — Pathology; Dr. Larry Lagatiana, MBBS — ENT Clinic; Dr. Noreen Takubala, MBBS — Dental Clinic; Dr. Gabriel Tupuna, MBBS— Anesthesia; Dr. Jemesa Matalau, MBBS —Anesthesia; Dr. Luz A. Bernabe MBBS — Emergency Room and Dr. Sharon Dakuitoga MBBS — Emergency Room.

Last month, Medical Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints working as a volunteer doctors at LBJ Tropical Medical Center for nearly 4 years also penned their support for the current hospital leadership.

This is outlined in a letter to Governor Lemanu dated February 27, 2023.

 “Currently there are four of us with varying lengths of time on island: Dr. Gebhard months, Dr. Tarr 10 months, Dr. Carter 6 months, and Dr. Walker 4 months. 

“We feel honored to be able to share our training and experience in our respective fields of Orthopaedic Surgery, Gynecologic Surgery, Cardiology, and Radiology.  We have been welcomed by the Samoan people on this island, and have loved getting to know them and associate with them as their doctors and friends.

“To date, the four of us have given over 6,000 hours of our time in medical care. As you are aware, the medical care in American Samoa has been lacking for many, many years. 

“While working at LBJ, we have seen first-hand the work of the nurses, ancillary staff, employed physicians, and have become very familiar with the physical plant, equipment and the different departments at the hospital.”

The medical missionaries cited that in the past the hospital has not had leadership that has been able to make any lasting improvement in the overall sad state of health care in American Samoa. 

“We now see an opportunity for this to change.  We see an amazing momentum for positive, sustained improvement with the current hospital leadership by the board, Dr. Ledua as CEO, and Dr. Shumway as Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

 “As physicians we have all been blessed with exceptional medical training at leading Medical Schools and have had the opportunity to work and be in leadership at several outstanding hospitals in the United States.

 “We feel that God has prepared us through our careers for a time such as this to bring our talents in improving health care for the people of American Samoa 

“We are excited to collaborate with the leadership at LBJ in making needed and important improvements. You are in a position to assist us in this important work. We would humbly request a meeting with you to discuss how to better meet the health care needs of your people.”

This letter were signed by James Gehbard MD; Audrye Tarr MD; Eric Carter MD and Hal Walker MD.

Physicians with the Pediatric Division also penned a letter of support dated

March 9, 2023 addressed to the Governor.

 “This letter is to express our support and appreciation to all that the administration under the leadership of the current board has done for LBJ TMC especially for the medical staff.

 “It has been a feeling of reassurance and confidence that having a board composed of health care providers who really understands the plight and concerns plaguing LBJ healthcare system has been finally addressed.

 “Although we are just part of the Medical Staff who our job basically concerns our health services to our patients, it is important for us too to hear and see the transparency that governs our hospital. And never before have had we experienced how valued we are as health care providers which the current board has shown.”

The doctors zeroed in on changes by the current leadership that have made a positive impact on them and they acknowledge that finally things are going in the right direction.

 “We assure LBJ administration that our department will support all avenues of improvement and put our trust on the current board to continue on their mission of improvement and soon make it happen.

 “We look forward and pray that they continue on what they have started a positive change for LBJ TMC. We humbly request that they be given an extension in their positions as part of the Board of LBJ and be able to complete the mission and plans they have already initiated.

 “We would like to see their plans for LBJ to come into reality.”

The pediatricians also made comments to the current board of directors.

 “To the board of LBJ TMC chairman, vice chairman and members we congratulate you for doing your job well and thank you for taking care of the medical staff.

 “Our department's commitment of service to LBJ will continue to flourish with confidence and that your mission and vision will steer LBJ into a better Health care facility for American Samoa.”

This letter was signed by Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Naomi M. Dane; Vice- chief of Pediatrics Dr. Maria Gayapa; Dr. Nestor Devesi; Dr Chrys Aguilera; Dr. Miliakere Baleilevuka and Dr. Mary Rose Aragon.

The final letter also addressed to Governor Lemanu, the Lt Gov, ASG Cabinet Directors, Senators and faipule was signed by local physicians and dentists of LBJ.

This letter was dated March 10, 2023.

 “As healthcare providers working at LBJ Tropical Medical Center we have seen Hospital Boards come and go throughout the years.

 “We are excited by the Hospital Governing Board and leadership you have selected and express strongly, that we are in full support of them.

 “It is the first time in the history of Board of Director's for the LBJ Tropical Medical Center, that this institution is led by strong and courageous health professionals Dr. Malo Tuiolosega and Dr. Jean Anderson as Chair and Vice Chair [respectively].

 “Furthermore, the support of member's Dr. Talifa Talifa Jr., representing the Dentists, as well as senior members Elder Jessop and Rep. Allen, all of whom have contributed profoundly, to the developments and advancements that are currently occurring within the LBJTMC.

 “It is also the first time we have an Acting CEO who is a physician Dr. Akapusi Ledua and an experienced CMO from off-island, Dr. Joseph Shumway thus far, has provided a positive and encouraging environment, and [is] helping guide our medical staff back to respectability.

 “We commend you in your guidance in assembling this amazing team. We acknowledge it has not been an easy decision, but we are here now at this important time.”

According to the physicians and dentists, the ability of the board to be flexible in its decision is admirable.

 “For example, they entrusted in the selection of our former CEO and gave him the chance to make improvements.

“Once they realized he was making decisions that were not aligned with LBJ mission and vision, they immediately took action and did what was best for the hospital.

 “We are grateful for their transparency, honesty and direct communication to our medical staff. We are seeing their visions, changes, and believe in it.

 “This letter is to show our support for the current board of directors and ask you to please give them a chance to continue to do the excellent work they are doing. We have high hopes that this Board of Directors is leading LBJ hospital in the right direction to achieve its mission to provide high quality, safe, and comprehensive health care that our people deserve.”

They humbly request the government leaders to consider their plea and keep the composition and leadership of our Board of Directors.

This letter was signed by

Dr. James Pita Sunia, LBJ Physician 29 years of service, Proud Local

Dr. Valentina Pola, Dentist/Admin 23 years of service. Proud Local

Dr. Leute Leota Dentist, Service 23 years of service Proud Local

Dr. Christina Pola-Willis, Dentist Service 23 years of service. Proud Local

Dr. Rodney Tupua, Dentist 23 years of service. Proud Local      

Dr. Lumepa Matatia-Kuki, Dentist 25 years of service. Proud Local 

Dr. Faletoi Uso, Dentist 21 years of services. Proud Local

Dr. Eileen Yandall-Maiava, Dentist 21 years of service. Proud Local

Dr. Fiatele Porotesano-Avegalio, Physician 22 years of service. Proud Local

Dr. Salofi Laititi, Physician 22 years of service. Proud Local

Dr. Olita Koria-Laititi, Physician 20 years of service. Proud Local