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Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Queen’s continues
cost-cutting measures

Star-Bulletin staff

The Queen's Medical Center plans to close its daily care service for the ill children of its workers and the general public, another in a growing line of budget cuts at Hawaii's largest hospital.

Queen's Medical Center The Sick Child Care Program, started in 1986, has been losing an average of $80,000 annually because it only serves about seven children a day, far less than expected, the hospital said yesterday. The program is slated to close in April.

Queen's also said it is eliminating three positions for licensed practitioner nurses at its progressive care unit, and replacing the jobs with two nurse's aides. Thirty-five employees work for the unit, which provides longer-term care for patients who no longer need acute care, but still require treatment.

A total of seven workers will be affected by both cuts, and will either find other jobs at Queen's or be laid off, the hospital said.

The medical center has eliminated more than 400 positions in the past few years and continues to look for areas to cut. It closed its cardiac rehabilitation center in May, and announced plans in November to shut its dental clinic, which loses $350,000 a year. Queen's later said it would keep the clinic open after the state offered to fund it for a year.

Queen's, one of the state's largest employers, has said it must slash its budget in response to the federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which gutted Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals nationwide. The hospital has lost $21.5 million in operations since 1998.

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