Big Isle hospital lays off 59
The North Hawaii facility faces a deficit of more than $7 million
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HILO » The North Hawaii Community Hospital on the Big Island is laying off 59 employees, effective immediately, equal to 12.6 percent of its staff of about 470.
The numbers include 45 at the hospital and 14 at two affiliated clinics called Waimea Women's Center. Thirty-nine of the employees are full-time. The clinic in Kona will be closed in August, said hospital Chief Executive Jeff Comer.
The final number of layoffs, determined after nearly a week of talks at the hospital, is smaller than the 15 percent reduction that was expected.
The reduction is made necessary by a projected deficit of more than $7 million this year and in subsequent years, a hospital statement said.
"This is going to be very, very painful," Comer said. The cuts are the only way to save the hospital so it will be operating in future years, he added.
The hospital is a private, community-owned facility, not part of the state hospital system. The management company was recently changed to Quorum Health Group of Brentwood, Texas. The previous operator was Adventist Health of Roseville, Calif.
The contracts of three management people from the hospital's Heart Brain Center were not renewed recently, and the function of the center, which was preventive screening, will be merged with the hospital's wellness program, Comer said.
The staff reductions will result in a savings of more than $4 million per year, he said. That still won't be enough to cover the projected $7 million deficit.
The remaining $3 million will be covered by a revenue-expanding "Get Well Plan" for the hospital.
An example of the how that will work is the planned expansion into profitable areas such as vascular and neurological surgery, Comer said.
There is a need for such services, but no one in the 30,000-person service area is providing the services, he said.
Another way the hospital hopes to increase revenues is with a new $2 million computerized information system for better billing. Money for that system is in hand, so it is not an expense included in the $7 million deficit, Comer said.
The experience of the 40-bed North Hawaii facility parallels the state's 49-acute-bed Kona Community Hospital, 45 miles to the south, which announced layoffs last week.
Facing a deficit of $7.6 million, Kona laid off 54 employees.