Doctors leave Dept. of Health

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KHJ News has received reports that three doctors and one dentist have left the Department of Health and more may be leaving soon.

The reason is that the department has not honored benefits under their contracts reportedly because of lack of funding.

For example, their housing allowances have not been paid for 4 going on 5 months now.

When asked, Director of Health Motusa Tuileama Nua confirmed the three doctors and dentist have decided to leave the department.

He said one doctor is returning to Samoa, one is looking to join LBJ, and the other one hasn’t indicated his plans.

The director said DOH is trying to match the salary and benefits being offered by LBJ Hospital so that the doctors will have change of mind.

He said the departure of the three doctors will leave DOH with 19 doctors. One less dentist means the department is left with just two dentists.

Regarding the housing allowances, the Health Director confirmed that ASG has not paid the housing allowances for a few months. He said this is due to a cash flow problem and is beyond DOH’s control. They have met with the Budget Office and has been assured that the housing allowances will be paid soon.

KHJ News has also received reports that some DOH nurses have not received paychecks for a while. Motusa explained that three nurses who recently became Registered Nurses have to go through changes to their titles and salaries.

He explained that DOH is working through the paperwork with the Budget Office, but he understands the frustration of these nurses in not getting paid.

Director Motusa said all of the employees who were hired during the COVID pandemic are still with the department; they did not furlough anyone.

At this time, DOH has about 400 employees.