Saturday, October 30, 1999

Queen’s hospital
to lay off 72
laundry employees

It also may delegate some
patient care duties away
from registered nurses

By Harold Morse


The Queen's Medical Center says it will provide assistance to 72 laundry employees who will be laid off in February.

Queen's also will help eight other hospitals, five nursing homes and numerous clinics -- now serviced by Queen's laundry -- to find other linen services.

Officials announced yesterday the hospital will shut down its laundry service. Queen's is negotiating a contract to have its laundry done by a local firm, United Laundry Services Inc., which is headed by first lady Vicky Cayetano.

Also, it may reorganize nursing staff to have licensed practical nurses perform duties now handled by registered nurses.

Nancy McGuckin, executive director of the Hawaii Nurses Association, said any use of lesser-skilled people as opposed to registered nurses is bad for patients.

"It's unfortunate for the patients," she said. "The nurses have the trained eyes and education to be able to notice where there are changes in patient conditions. These are sick people, and they deserve registered nurses."

McGuckin said the nurses association is discussing the tentative staffing changes with Queen's. She confirmed the plan would have licensed practical nurses, nurses' aides and housekeeping staff assume more responsibility in patient care. Registered nurses would act as team leaders, delegating and supervising various tasks.

Richard Lau, Queen's vice president for human resources, said the laundry shutdown is dictated by economic and strategic needs.

Purchasing linen services will save Queen's $675,000 a year and allow it to concentrate limited resources on health care in light of new technology and intensified competition, he said.

The laundry employs 72 people, 58 of whom are members of Hawaii Teamsters and Allied Workers, Local 996. The other 14 are in various management and nonunion positions.

"The 90-days' notice gives each affected employee and the medical center more time to plan for other employment both inside and outside of the Queen's system," Lau said.

Queen's will meet with the union to work out details on effects of the shutdown, Lau said.

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