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American Samoa urgently repairs C.T. machine

Samoa’s only C.T. (computed tomography) machine, which has been out of order since at least October, is being repaired thanks to the urgent one-day deployment of an engineer from L.B.J Hospital in American Samoa.

A C.T. scan is a medical imaging procedure that allows doctors to see inside a patient's body and identify otherwise undetectable internal illnesses.  

The engineer arrived on Friday and left again on Saturday, according to K.H.J News, as he cannot be away from his own hospital for more than a day.

He traveled on the Samoa Airways Twin Otter which has been based in American Samoa since April to service the inter-island routes during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Coronavirus Task Force Chairman Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi asked his American Samoan counterpart for help with the C.T. machine.

He wrote to Governor Lolo Moliga, who consulted with the hospital chief executive, before approving the request for engineer Ernesto Dayang from MedPharm to go to Samoa.

L.B.J. C.E.O. Faumuina John Faumuina confirmed that the engineer left yesterday and the arrangement was for him to make the repairs and return right away.

A C.T. scan combines a series of x-ray images taken from different angles around the body and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images which can aid doctors diagnoses of internal injuries, heart problems, diagnose and locate tumours and bone disorders among other uses.

Last November, the Samoa Observer confirmed the country’s only C.T. machine based at Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital had been broken for nearly a month, and patients' health may have been compromised as a result.

Four staff at the national hospital, who declined to be named because they are not authorised to speak to the media, said the machine had been broken down for at least three weeks.

A family member of a patient who had been admitted with a stroke, who did not wish to be named, confirmed they were rushed to the hospital due to a stroke in early November but doctors said the C.T. scan has been down two weeks.

On the night the patient was admitted, the medical officers could not determine whether the patient had a clot or bleeding in her brain and without the C.T. scan, they were unable to fully diagnose her condition that night. The patient was discharged a week later.

* Additional reporting by Soli Wilson.

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