PedsMD's blog

Concern for the Children of American Samoa

My name is Tangra Broge and I am a pediatrician. I too have been gravely concerned for the wellbeing of American Samoan children. While on-island I was privileged to work under Dr Marrone's leadership and deliver excellent medicine to the children on the island. At a time when the healthcare was/is in dire straights, I witnessed hospital administration push qualified physicians and other mid-level practitioners out for their own personal gain. Dr. Marrone was one of those individuals.

Dr. Marrone has impeccable credentials and is board-certified in pediatrics and tropical medicine. During Dr. Marrone’s 14 years of leadership the pediatric department was historically well staffed with ample local, international, and U.S trained pediatricians. A thriving rheumatic heart disease program was instituted with marked improvement in medication adherence and heart failure prevention. Dr. Marrone spearheaded biannual cardiology clinics in partnership with off-island pediatric cardiologists, providing invaluable specialized care and echocardiograms for high-risk pediatric heart patients. A “preemie program” for high-risk infants was instituted with tremendous success. Like many other qualified, trained providers, Dr Marrone eventually resigned due to the undue pressures from the CMO. 

During my time on-island I also saw the closure of the Primary Care Clinic at the LBJ Medical Center. This forced the resignation of the board-certified chief of Family Medicine, Dr. Sean Stracensky. In a territory with obvious need for preventative adult care this decision has resulted in a significant decline in services for adult patients and unprecedented wait times at the emergency department for refills and non-emergent services.

And recently I saw in Samoa News that distraught nurses were forced to use garbage bags for underpads in patient hospital beds and tearing and utilizing bedsheets for dressing changes! In a hospital that is funded by U.S. federal dollars, I think the need for action and correction of mismanagement is obvious. I still have many dear friends on the island and had hundreds of patients and families that I was privileged to care for. I hope that someone takes notice and intervenes for the people of American Samoa.