History - Facilities
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Tropical Medical Center was built sometime in the latter part of the 1960s.
It was nice that they named it after the only U.S. president ever to visit American Samoa. President Johnson visited on October 18, 1966. You can learn more about his visit here.
The “Tropical Medical Center” part of the name seems to refer more to the type of construction than to imply that tropical medicine is actually practiced there. The original design was totally open, with almost no closing windows and no air conditioning, except in surgery, birthing and nursery areas.
The wards were two patients to a room and those rooms had large open windows stretching the full width of the room and about 5’ high. The windows had only screen wire to separate the patients from the outside.
Plumbing, electrical and mechanical conduits are suspended in the ceilings along the main hallways. There is always incessant dripping causing wet spots on the floors. Many people have slipped and fallen in these wet spots, but still the dripping continues.
There have been many improvements over the years, but only as conditions demanded. The entire facility is now enclosed and air conditioned. The old, leaky roofing was replaced by metal roofing, which seems to be holding up pretty well. Much needed parking was added. The waiting area for the Emergency Room was enlarged and chickens no longer hang out around the outside benches. The pharmacy was upgraded and wait times reduced.
Even with all the improvements, the facility remains filthy and woefully inadequate. The hospital was built to serve a population of about 25,000 people and now attempts to serve nearly 70,000. There are some dispensaries (clinics) where services are provided for minor ailments, dentistry and pre-natal care. Still, most people head for the main hospital whenever they need any kind of medical attention.
Some of the pictures on this site will show the deplorable conditions of the facility most people depend on for their healthcare services.