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Leahi, Maluhia to slash 64 jobs, cut long-term care beds by 25%

Honolulu Star-Advertiser; Kristen Consillio; 7/9/15

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Two state-run, long-term care facilities on Oahu are cutting 64 positions and temporarily halting new admissions to stay afloat.

Officials of Leahi Hospital and Maluhia, part of the public hospital system known as Hawaii Health Systems Corp., said the reductions are the “last resort to remain operational in the face of an estimated $3.7 million deficit” in fiscal year 2016, which began on July 1.

Both facilities employ a total of 430 workers. The reduction represents roughly 15 percent of the staff.

The long-term care providers are downsizing one skilled nursing wing per facility, reducing the combined number of beds by 76, or about 25 percent of capacity.

“Reducing the impact to patients is paramount. Our goal is to avoid patient transfers between our facilities or to outside care settings for as long as financial conditions will allow,” Oahu Region CEO Derek Akiyoshi said in a press release. “Our employees are very concerned about our patients, and they don’t want to see our patients’ lives disrupted.”

The facilities will freeze admissions as needed to moderate patient capacity.

HHSC’s 12-member hospitals are shrinking in the face of lower reimbursements and rising costs, including labor. Up until 2014 the state had funded collective bargaining increases, but reversed the policy under the previous administration.

“This, along with insufficient reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid, made reductions necessary. The level of state financial support makes or breaks our operations,” Akiyoshi said. “There were 64 lives turned upside down today. Some of our employees have been with us for decades.”

HHSC notified employees, patients and caregivers about the cutbacks on Tuesday. Staff reductions will not be fully implemented until November. The official 90-day notice will be issued on Aug. 1.

Further cuts, privatization or other measures may be needed for the facilities to survive, HHSC said.

“This is a sad day for the communities that we serve,” Akiyoshi said. “We look forward to returning to financial stability in order to continue serving the most vulnerable population on Oahu.”

A community meeting to discuss the changes is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. in the Leahi Hospital conference room and Maluhia Mitori room via video teleconference.

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