Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that Dr. James Hastings, Director of the VA Regional Office in Hawaii, has informed him that the new VA clinic for American Samoa will be dedicated on July 21, 2007. This comes about as a result of the Congressman’s recent meeting with Dr. Hastings in Honolulu last month.
“I want to thank Dr. Hastings as well as his Director, Dr. Robert Wiebe of the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 21 which is responsible for VA services in California, Nevada, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“In conversations last week with Dr. Wiebe, my office was informed that the renovations in our building are now complete. If the VA were to construct a comparable building, it would cost the VA about $4 million to do so. The VA spent about $500,000 to renovate the building to make it suitable for our purposes, and I thank the VA for this. I also thank the US Army Reserves for honoring my request to grant this building to the VA to serve the needs of American Samoa’s veterans and Reservists,” Faleomavaega continued.
“Currently, the VA plans to staff the clinic with 6 people including one primary (or family medicine) physician, one mental health care provider, two nurses (one R.N. and one L.P.N.), one social worker, and one clerk. Recruitment is still underway for all of these positions.”
“The VA will spend about $2 to $3 million a year to operate the clinic and serve veterans in American Samoa. Specifically, the VA will spend about $500,000 annually for staff salaries (plus benefits), $750,000 for pharmacy, $1 million for off-island specialty services, and about $500,000 for patient travel to obtain specialty services. Please note that these estimates assume that veterans will continue to be able to obtain in-patient care and support services (e.g., laboratory and x-ray) from the LBJ Tropical Medical Center without cost to the patients or the VA, as already agreed.”
“The opening of the clinic is dependent on the VA’s ability to recruit staff and establish an adequate information technology link to its computers in Hawaii. This link is necessary since the VA relies solely on an electronic medical record. While I am disappointed that our clinic will not open in April as the VA had planned, I remain hopeful that it will open for sure in July as the VA is now saying. Our veterans deserve the best services the VA has to offer and I look forward to being on-island in July for the dedication of our new VA clinic which is long over-due but is history in the making,” Faleomavaega concluded.