St. Francis Healthcare to close hospice, let go 110 employees

While the Queen’s Medical Center West is set to open its doors in a few weeks, another facility that sits right next door will shut down in a few months. The St. Francis Hospice Center in Ewa will close its doors at the end of September.

Jerry Correa, president and CEO of St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii, informed the Hawaii Dept. of Labor and Industrial Relations about the planned layoffs last Thursday. He said this was a difficult time, but added that this was a financial decision for the health care company.

The St. Francis Hospice Center opened in 1997 and features two dozen beds for end-of-life care. The company said that the hospice facility in Ewa will take its last patient on August 1, and will completely shut down at the end of September. But its Home Hospice program will remain continue, as well as its 12-bed hospice facility in Nuuanu.

In all, 110 people will be let go, and not just at the hospice center. Home Health programs at St. Francis in Liliha and on Kauai, as well as the Healthy Lifestyle program in Liliha, will also be shut down.

According to Dept. of Labor spokesperson William Kunstman, the employees will be let go in phases – 49 employees by June 30, 45 employees by Sept. 30, 16 employees by Dec. 31. Layoffs include home health aides, physical therapists, occupational therapists, clerks, nurses, social workers, nursing assistants and other personnel, he said.

Joan Craft, president of the Hawaii Nurses Association Local 50, says 22 registered nurses are affected. “The problem is that they are in home health and hospice care,” Craft said, “so they may need some retraining.”

KHON2 asked state Sen. Josh Green, a doctor and chairman of the Senate Health Committee, what kind of impact the shutdown of the Ewa facility will have on those who need this kind of service. “I think we will have all the hospice care we will need in the state,” said Green. “They’re repurposing their service. They’re a fantastic service. They been around for a long time, but they’re dealing with economic realities like everyone else.”

As part of its multi-year financial plan, St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii will be focusing on its Liliha campus as it looks forward to its skilled nursing facility, which is on track to open this summer. This is part of the medical center’s plan to become Hawaii’s first comprehensive health and wellness center for older adults.

St. Francis also says over time, it hopes to add other services including a senior community center, assisted living program, adult day care and health center, and an independent living facility.

The following is a statement from Jerry Correa, president and CEO of St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii:

“This is a difficult time for all of us at St. Francis. Having to scale back some of our services and lose great employees is not easy. We have had to assess which programs and services best support our multi-year strategic plan and the decisions we are making today will help us to be more financially sustainable in the future, so that we can carry on the legacy of the Sisters of St. Francis.

Saint Marianne Cope and the Sisters of St. Francis showed us that being a mission-oriented organization means we must be prudent stewards of the resources that have been entrusted to us. Maintaining a healthcare ministry requires constant vigilance and openness to God’s leading.  It demands us to be flexible yet decisive, ready to move in new directions and unafraid to let go of what we may cherish.

Our skilled nursing facility at our Liliha campus is on track to open by late summer, and the campus will eventually be transformed into Hawaii’s first comprehensive health and wellness center to meet the needs of Hawaii’s older adult population. Over time, we may add more services on the Liliha campus such as a senior community center, assisted living,adult day care and adult day health, and independent living.”

St. Francis Hospice Center
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