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Dear Honorable Governor of American Samoa, 

It has been a week since my husband and I returned from [participating] in the Medicaid Program. We went to New Zealand to have cataract surgery after being referred from our local eye doctors for off island surgery. The process was referred by our local doctors, to Ms. Lafoa’ina’s office, to Sandra King-Young’s office, then off we went.

I was very excited and hopeful that with God’s help, everything would go smoothly. And it did!

We left here on the 16th of November for Western Samoa and arrived on the 18th of November in Auckland, New Zealand. Everything went well. We traveled to Upolu, and when we arrived we were escorted by the Insel Hotel crew from Faleolo Airport to their hotel. We spent the night there, and at 4:30 in the morning, we were woken up by the front desk that the airport shuttle was ready for guests’ pickup (6am). The Insel Airport Shuttle took us to Faleolo at 6am to catch our flight at 9am.

It took Samoa Airways 4 hours and 10 minutes to fly to Auckland, NZ. We arrived at 1:15 pm and went through customs, quarantine and immigration. We arrived and saw Bobby standing with a 8.5 x 11 sized sign with our names listed. It took us another 45 minutes to wait for 2 other passengers. There were 4 of us that went into Bobby’s “Affordable Ride” Van.

We drove directly from the Auckland Airport to draw blood and urine to test our blood/sugar levels.

The following day, we were scheduled to see an eye doctor for our orientation and examination regarding the problem of my right eye. It was during the Orientation with Dr. Peter Ring that they discovered that my sugar level was normal but my blood pressure was still high. Dr. Ring went very fast showing me the five (5) different kinds of eye machines that he would use to examine the cataract of my right eye. It was these 5 different machines that would help Dr. Ring determine when and how long both my husband and I would have to stay in Auckland.

I was light-headed during the first week and prior to our first appointment; this was because we had traveled quite a long distance and had gone straight to the blood draw upon arrival. It was a lot on my plate.

On Wednesday morning, the third day, we were scheduled to have eye surgery at 9am. It went well. I slept through the whole procedure. It was very professional and the doctor and staff were very kind. There were 9 different nurses who assisted Dr. Peter Ring. I woke up after 2 hours. A nurse advised me that my eye could have no exposure to water, wind, sunlight and dust. We were also advised that I needed to return Thursday to take off the eye dressing.

On Thursday, the 4th day of visiting Dr. Ring, he took me to the three machines to re-examine my right eye again. I felt very blessed and very fortunate for this privilege allowed by our Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga.

The people handling the Medicaid Program (locally and off island) really did a super job. We are very grateful with this golden opportunity given to us to have great doctors and second opinions. I only hope and wish that everyone on the island of Tutuila and working for the government of American Samoa should have the same golden opportunity to fix whatever needs to be fixed to maintain their health.

All in all, we are so grateful for this beautiful opportunity to travel from our tiny island, Tutuila, and go to our neighboring island Aoteroa — NZ. We were in awe and amazed with all that was given to us by Medicaid. Thank you Lord for our Governor and the director of Medicaid, Ms. Sandra King-Young.

May the good Lord’s Blessings be upon you and the First Lady Cynthia! May He also shine his face upon you and be gracious to you always.

Blessings for the Holidays!

Respectfully yours,

Ioane Taua’i & Epi Suafo’a-Taua’i