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Maui hospitals to begin workforce reduction

Ige's public/private solution to the Maui hospital crisis may come too late for some hospital workers.

News Report
Will Caron

After announcing a staggering $28 million dollar budget gap for Fiscal Year 2016, the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation’s (HHSC) Maui Region is organizing public meetings to take public input on the imminent service and position cuts and to start the reduction in workforce processes.

This comes on the heels of an announcement by Governor David Ige that the state House and Senate have agreed to take to conference HB 1075, SD2, relating to Maui healthcare reform.

“We are committed to moving a bill forward that provides us with the best opportunity for a public/private partnership and healthcare reform on Maui,” said Governor Ige, today. “We agree that we need to move forward on a public/private partnership in order to move our hospitals forward.  There are some technical issues that we’ve agreed to work on together, to come up with a bill that will best serve the people of Hawaii.”

Through this measure, the legislature, in collaboration with the administration, seeks to establish the necessary legal and financing framework for a successful public/private partnership for health care facilities within the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation.

“We want to assure the public that we are all on the same page, that we are working together to come up with a good bill that we can all be proud of,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim.

“I’m pleased that the governor is involved and will be taking a leadership role in the transition of moving Maui Hospital from government to a private, non-profit entity.  I think it is important to work with the administration and with the House and the Senate and other major stakeholders on resolving this very important healthcare issue for all of our citizens,” said House Speaker Joe Souki.

But the measure may come to late for some of HHSC’s Maui Region employees, who will be faced with position cuts the healthcare system must make to balance its budget by July 1.

“The Administration’s recent interest in our legislation brings heightened scrutiny at the eleventh hour and some concern for its movement forward. However, we must remain focused on the need to live within our budgetary restraints,” said Wesley Lo, Chief Executive Officer of HHSC’s Maui Region. “July 1 is upon us and we must start to prepare for what we will be able to provide and the amount of service providers we can employ.”

The announcement of a reduction in force comes after the hospitals’ unionized nurses were given an unfundable four percent increase in pay, as negotiated by the State and the Hawaii Government Employees Association. “We hoped, with our reduced budget, we would have been consulted on these funding mandates that we will be unable to fund,” said Lo.

The public is encouraged to attend and participate in these briefings:

Pu‘u Kukui Elementary School, Wailuku, Maui
Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 5–7pm

“We invite the Administration to attend this briefing. We need the community to be present, they need to understand the severity of these service cuts and how this budget shortfall will impact every person that lives and visits Maui,” said Lo.

The Maui Region of HHSC serves over 11,000 inpatients and sees over 45,000 people in the emergency room each year. With over 1,500 employees, Maui Memorial Medical Center is the only full-service, acute-care medical facility in Maui County, and the only hospital outside of Oahu providing a full range of cardiac services, including open-heart surgery and angioplasty.