East Hawaii News

Hospital Officials to Brief Lawmakers on Budget Plan

June 24, 2014, 5:12 PM HST
* Updated June 24, 5:13 PM
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Officials with the state’s hospital system will meet with lawmakers Wednesday on their plans to cope with an anticipated $48 million budget shortfall.

The briefing by the Hawaii Health System Corporation for the House Committee on Health is one of a series to be held on all islands regarding the operations of the hospitals.

The HHSC asked for $150 million during the recent legislative session, but received only $102 million.

The portion of the budget cuts falling on the HHSC’s East Hawaii Region is about $9 million, said Hilo Medical Center spokeswoman Elena Cabatu.

The East Hawaii Region includes Hilo Medical Center, Ka`u Hospital and Hale Ho`ola Hamakua in Honoka`a, as well as 10 outpatient clinics.

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The cuts, which have been in the works since January, affect primarily Hilo Medical Center, Cabatu said.

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About $5 million has been saved through reduction in the number of employees by not renewing contracts when they expire, she said. That has involved an urologist and 25 “traveling” nurse and technician positions, and the elimination of five unfilled administrative positions.

She said the hospital is “keeping the status quo” by having some workers adding duties and others switching roles, such as having nurses that have been working in educational roles taking on duties on the hospital floor.

The remaining $4 million is expected to be saved through delaying planned growth, including postponing purchase of replacement equipment such as ultrasound machines, and installation of a photovoltaic system.

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Wednesday’s meeting with lawmakers in Honolulu will involve a presentation by representatives of HHSC’s Kauai Regional Board. No public testimony will be taken.

A House spokesman said additional meetings will be held on the neighbor islands, including one on Kauai on June 30.

Dates for meetings on Maui and the Big Island have not been set, but are expected to take place by August.

Public input will also be accepted at that time, the spokesman said.

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