HILO, Hawaii – A community meeting was held at Hilo Medical Center on Wednesday so the public could weigh-in on planned service cutbacks and workforce reductions at the hospital.
In May, the East Hawaii Region of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation announced they were laying off 87 people at its three hospitals: Hilo Medical Center, Ka‘u Hospital and Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua. HHSC is trying to close a projected $7 million deficit in the fiscal year starting July 1.
Dan Brinkman, the interim CEO of HHSC’s East Hawaii Region, detailed the planed cuts for the crowd gathered in the HMC’s second floor conference room. Brinkman said HMC is focused on “minimizing potential harm to patients, preserving essential services to the community that no other entity can provide, keeping facilities open, reducing financial losses, and protecting the ability to provide high quality, patient centered care.”
Cost cutting measures have already been made throughout the East Hawaii Region, Brinkman said, and service cutbacks and closures are the last resort for financial viability.
- Brinkman says the decision to close Home Care Services was made due to declining reimbursements, increasing loss, and decreasing demand. The services are also being provided by others. In the summer, HHSC plans to have a gradual decline in admissions, complete the care for current patients, and facilitate special arrangements for long term patients. The hospital will develop new referral network before closing.
- HMC is closing the rarely used Maile Wing of the Adult Inpatient Psychiatry Care behavioral health facility to eliminate excess capacity. However, Brinkman says acute inpatient psychiatry services are essential and part of the region’s safety net mission.
- HHSC will reduce number of Long Term Care Services staffed beds available at Hilo Medical Center, Ka’u Hospital and Hale Ho’ola Hamakua over the next several months. Hilo Medical Center will rely on the Regency Pacific opening a 100-bed long term care facility on Komohana to shoulder the demand. Brinkman noted beds are available at other long term care facilities in community.
The East Hawaii Region operates on a budget of $160 million and, with a current payroll of over $100 million; it is Hawaii Island’s second largest employer. Statewide, HHSC is facing a $50 million shortfall overall for fiscal year 2016.