HHSC announces layoffs statewide


Hawaii Health Systems Corporation will begin eliminating positions across the statewide system as early as December, officials said this morning.

The announcement comes after an extensive review of operations, programs and services at each of its five regions’ facilities seeking solutions to address a $48 million shortfall for fiscal year 2015.

The exact impact on Hawaii Island’s HHSC properties — Kona Community Hospital, Hilo Medical Center, Kohala Hospital, Ka‘u Hospital, Hale Hoola Hamakua and Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home — was not immediately available.

“We value our employees tremendously and we really tried to avoid this,” said Alice Hall, Acting President and Chief Executive Officer of HHSC, in an email. “Unfortunately, the current financial situation in some regions is not sustainable without significant changes, some of which have resulted in cost saving measures that include a reduction in force.”

HHSC officials said the board of directors for each region will continue to work with their respective region’s management teams to develop and implement contingency plans to meet the financial shortfall. Each region has different expense control strategies available and is examining internal operations on a comprehensive basis from productivity management to work flow processes. Every possible option was explored thoroughly and with patients, residents and employees at the forefront of any decisions made, officials said.

HHSC employees already received noticed that the reduction in force was coming. Official notifications will be issued Tuesday.

This notification begins a 90-day process in which the impacted employee will have 90 days before his/her last day of employment. During the 90-day period, impacted employees may choose to be placed in a budgeted vacant position, and if none exists, can exercise the “bumping” process as described in applicable collective bargaining agreements. The “bumping” process may then extend the effects of the RIF beyond originally identified positions, a process that could take up to 9 months. Further reductions may occur later in the year.

HHSC facilities face decreased state subsidies and health insurance reimbursements, while operating costs continue to rise and the need for healthcare in a growing population increases, the news release said. HHSC officials have been meeting with representatives from the state Legislature to discuss strategies and possible long-term solutions.