6 Jul 2005

Doubt over bail-out for American Samoa's LBJ medical centre

3:37 pm on 6 July 2005

A request by American Samoa's LBJ medical center to have 15 million US dollars to wipe out debt and keep operating, is unlikely to be met by the government.

The chairman of the hospital board, Charles Warren, says this is what the territory's only hospital needs to be able to start the new fiscal year afresh.

Included in the hospital's debt are a 5.7 million dollar loan from the territorial government, 3 million to an off-island medical supplier, taxes, power bills and retirement benefits.

But, our correspondent, Fili Sagapolutele, says there may be resistance from lawmakers to Mr Warren's proposal.

"It's doubtful at this point if any loan will be issued out again as the hospital has not yet made payments on the loan that was handed out in 2003. And, the governor has not made any indication if he plans to give the hospital another loan."

Fili Sagapolutele says the governor is yet to even sign off on a bill passed by the senate to provide the LBJ medical center with 500,000 dollars to prevent shortages of medicines.

Mr Warren says staff are being asked to work shorter hours, clinics will be closed one day a week and 33 jobs will be eliminated.