Science in Christian Perspective



Public Health In American Samoa
Fred S. Brenneman,

From: JASA 6 (September 1954):

Editor's Note: The following is a portion of a broadcast over WVUV in American Samoa by Dr. Fred S. Brenneman, Director of Public Health, Pago Pago, Tutuila. In addition to the work discussed, he is also concerned in the Department with Sanitation, Insect and Rodent Control, and Port Inspections. Dr. Brenneman is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation.

Public Health is a major concern of any government. The Department of Public Health of American

Samoa has been active since the beginning of American interest in Samoa.

There are two main interests of the Public Health Department. One of these is the care of the sick; the other one is the prevention of sickness. We believe that we should be interested in these two areas with equal emphasis for all. In order to give the best service, it must be rendered without any favors being shown to one group over another, regardless of race, color or creed.

This evening we wish to give to you a general picture of the scope and nature of the work of the Department of Public Health. In subsequent broadcasts we will give you more detailed information regarding the different departments of our work. We believe it is also of interest to you to know something more definite about the people who serve you. We hope to give you a short sketch of the personnel in our department in later broadcasts.

The main divisions of this department are the hospital services and the public health services. There is a third area of our work which is concerned with the operation and maintenance of these two divisions. This is the over-all administration.

In the hospital division the important services are (1) the professional staff, (2) the technical facilities and (3) the School of Nursing.

The professional staf f consists of those people who see the patients and care for them. At present in addition to the Director of Public Health there are two doctors of medicine. Both of these doctors are very busy. It is planned that in the near future there will be two more doctors of medicine. These four carry the responsibility of all the medical work of the hospital. Under their direct supervision we have a group of medical practitioners. These men have been trained to do medical work under the supervision of the medical doctors.

Another very important group of professional people in the hospital are the nurses. At present we have three American registered nurses, each of whom has an advanced degree in Nursing Education. One of these is the Superintendent of Public Health Nursing, one of them is Superintendent of Hospital Nursing, the other is an instructor in the School of Nursing. .are in need of two more registered nurses and are present making plans to, secure them. The nursing staff which gives the bedside care to the patients, consists 53 graduate nurses and 62 student nurses. The studeny nurses do some practical work caring f or the patient in addition to their classroom work.

There is also a dental section of the the supervision of one American doctor of dental surgery. There are at present three Samoan dental practitioners and there is one who will join our staff in the beginning of 1954.

In the technical section of our Department of Public Health we have other very important professional personnel. Without well-qualif ied persons and good equipment in the field of laboratory examinations, in the field of x-ray service and in the field of pharmacy, no medical service could function. Another area is the tech nical service is in the recor s epar men . wou impossible to carry on good measures of preventive medicine without very careful records. This is also. true with regard to the care of the patients in the hospital.

The service of this department to the people of Sarno would be very inadequate without public health to the dispensaries and villages so that people at a dis tance from the hospital may receive these benefits. dispensaries at Amouli, Leone, Of u and Ta'u have been established and are rendering a very important service. These as well as the nurses in the various villages, are under the direct supervision of the Superintendent of Public Health Nursing.

Since October, 1953 this department has also been responsible for the maintenance of the Leprosarium and the care of the patients there. Previously this department was concerned with lepers and their care, but chiefly with diagnosis and cooperation with the work at Makogai. I wish to emphasize the following comment and it will be emphasized repeatedly. It is a matter of very great importance and also, no doubt, of very great comfort for all of us to know that leprosy is not a contagious disease. It is also good to know that it is not an infectious disease. The problem of leprosy is a problem of treating the patients who have the disease and removing the ungrounded fears for all of the rest of us.

This brief outline of the Department of Public Health would be incomplete and the department could not function without the operational detail represented in maintaining supplies. These supplies include medicine, dressings, new equipment, equipment repair and last, but not least, food and meal service.