17 May 2011

American Samoa off-island referral programme still on hold

3:14 pm on 17 May 2011

The head of the LBJ Hospital in American Samoa says it is unlikely it can resume the off-island medical referral programme before the current fiscal year ends in September.

The hospital's fiscal year 2011 budget had approved 1.5 million US dollars to send patients for treatment off-island and the Medical Executive Committee had been revising the criteria and policies in preparation to resume the programme.

Earlier this year, the LBJ Chief Executive Officer Mike Gerstenberger was optimistic that the hospital would receive enough funding from the government to be able to afford the referral programme.

But he now says this is not likely to happen.

"Unfortunately we have no funding for it. And the programme is suspended. We are still evaluating cases and cases that meet the criteria, the only thing we can offer at this point is access to the discounted airfares that we've negotiated with Hawaiian Airlines."

Mike Gerstenberger says the hospital is also struggling with staff shortages.