Wilcox Health System eliminates 9 hospital, clinic positions

Some Wilcox Health System employees said they felt something in the air Tuesday when they reported to work.

Yesterday, nine employees of Wilcox Memorial Hospital and Kauai Medical Clinic felt the sting of being notified they had lost their jobs.

The same day, a front-page article in The Garden Island indicated 30 job cuts made on O’ahu to Wilcox parent company Hawaii Pacific Health would not impact Kaua’i employees. That turned out to be inaccurate.

Wilcox Health System spokeswoman Lani Yukimura said the terminated Kaua’i employees (called “associates” at Wilcox Health System) in some cases were offered other open positions if they qualified for them, but not all were able to be placed.

The terminations were done respectfully, with severance packages offered to those who lost their jobs yesterday, she said.

But some of those employees who lost their jobs, and some whose friends, family members or co-workers lost their jobs, said that these kinds of changes hurt employee morale, and cannot help but affect patient care.

Yukimura and administrators at Wilcox Health System disagree.

“These changes do not affect patient services in our hospital or clinics, where we continue to actively recruit for open clinical positions,” said Dr. David Patton, Wilcox Memorial Hospital president and chief executive officer, and Dr. Lee Evslin, president and chief executive officer of Kauai Medical Clinic.

The job cuts were necessary as part of a continual re-evaluation of services and all aspects of hospital and clinic operations, administrators added. Challenges in the health-care environment and increasing pressures led to the decisions, they said.

The timing of the announcement and article was unfortunate, Yukimura said.

“These employees were given notice today (Wednesday), and the untimeliness of the newspaper article is very unfortunate because it gave a wrong message,” Yukimura said.

“We are sensitive to the feelings of our associates, and while it is always a difficult situation when a workforce is reduced, we do approach such challenges with great sensitivity and respect for each individual.

“We have offered severance packages to each individual affected, and asked all of our employees to be supportive of those staff members who are leaving our organization,” said Yukimura.

“We will continue to look at the best ways of managing our hospital and clinic in the most effective, yet patient-centered way,” she concluded.

The system continues job-searches for nurses and certain other positions. Yesterday’s cuts represent around 1 percent of the system’s roughly 1,000 employees.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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