Medical supplies shortage at American Samoa hospital

This article from Radio New Zealand.  Read full story on RNZ

Nurses at American Samoa's LBJ Hospital say the hospital's shortage of medical supplies is affecting the quality of patient care, with nurses forced to use bed sheets as dressings.

Nurses say dressing supplies and other basic supplies such as gloves and gauze pads have run out, and LBJ Hospital is also reported to be out of some IV solutions.

The chair of the hospital board Leilua Mase Akapo says the hospital is in a grave financial situation because of the government's failure to transmit funds to the hospital.

Our correspondent in American Samoa, Monica Miller, says nurses who have spoken out are describing a dire situation.

"According to these nurses, they're using trash bags as underpads for the beds, to cover under the sheets. So that's a very worrying situation. I know that there's been a series of meetings between the governor and the people at the treasury. And the governor has basically told the treasurer that he should find money to pay the hospital."

Ms Miller says off island vendors are requiring the hospital to pay up front for orders before they release any supplies.

Last month the Hospital Authority Board informed the governor that LBJ's account payables had reached US$8 million, with sources at LBJ saying unpaid bills for medical supplies represents about three quarters of this.

The chairman of the hospital board told the governor that the funds the government has failed to pay to the hospital include a monthly subsidy of US$500,000 per month, a two percent wage tax and Medicare and Medicaid payments.

A report that the chairman provided for the governor, shows that the amount the ASG owes LBJ was US$5.7 million as of December 28, 2015.

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