The Oahu Region of Hawaii Health Systems Corp. (HHSC) announced Wednesday that it will cut 64 positions from its two healthcare facilities, Leahi Hospital and Maluhia.
The measure is described as the organization’s last resort to remain operational in the face of an estimated $3.7 million deficit in fiscal year 2016, which began on July 1. The plan was designed in an effort to keep patients in place for as long as possible without having to transfer them to alternate care settings.
The reduction calls for the downsizing of one skilled nursing wing, or 38 beds, per facility. This equates to a total of 76 reduced beds, or approximately 25 percent of overall capacity.
“That’s gonna be a problem because from here our people who cannot take care of themselves end up across the street because they cannot afford all other places,” said Maluhia senior resident Gary Bixby.
The plan is designed to reduce the impact to current patients for as long as possible.
“Our goal is to avoid patient transfers between our facilities or to outside care settings for as long as financial conditions will allow,” said Oahu Region CEO Derek Akiyoshi.
The freezing of admissions will be implemented, as needed, in an effort to moderate patient capacity.
“Reducing the impact to patients is paramount,” Akiyoshi said. “Our employees are very concerned about our patients, and they don’t want to see our patients’ lives disrupted. That’s the kind of quality people we have. They think about their patients before they think about themselves.”
Staffing reductions will not be fully implemented for more than three months. The announced cutbacks were delivered as an early, unofficial notice to employees as well as patients and their caregivers on Tuesday, July 7. The official 90-day notice will not occur until August 1.
“At this time, this is all that we’re planning and of course it really is a significant reduction,”said HHSC CEO Dr. Linda Rosen. “We hope we won’t have to do more as you know we do also have reductions in some of our other regions,”
“Once we settled on the necessary path forward, we felt our employees, patients, and caregivers deserved the maximum amount of time to process the changes. That’s why we made this announcement ahead of the official notice on August 1,” said Akiyoshi.
There are a total of 430 employees at both facilities. The reduction represents approximately 15 percent of the staff.
“There were 64 lives turned upside down today,” Akiyoshi said. “Some of our employees have been with us for decades. We knew this outcome was probable when the State did not fund collective bargaining increases, so we began notifying staff and patients almost a year ago.”
A public forum will be held to discuss the pending reductions on Friday, July 10, at 5 p.m. at Leahi Hospital Nurses In-Service Conference Room and Maluhia Mitori Room, via video teleconference. Parking available at Kapiolani Community College (area A).