Hilo Medical Center’s Extended Care Facility to Remain Open

Hilo, Hawaii – Following a year-long comprehensive review of East Hawaii’s inventory of public and private long term care facilities, which included admission practices and insurance provisions, patient needs, employee re-training, public input and financial analysis, the East Hawaii Region Board of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) adopted Hilo Medical Center Administration’s recommendation to operate a 27-bed Extended Care Facility.

“New patterns are emerging in the delivery of long term care and are expanding options now available to residents. Our modern facilities in Hamakua and Kau are excellent, and the significant growth of new private facilities and care homes in the Hilo area now accommodate most of the long term care needs of the communities we serve,” said Kurt Corbin, Board Chair of HHSC East Hawaii Region. “The one exception is the delivery of long term care to vulnerable safety net patients. Hilo Medical Center is a safety net hospital and it will continue to provide exceptional care for patients in need.”

Public and private long term care facilities in the East Hawaii Region include Hale Hoola Hamakua, Kau Hospital, Hilo Medical Center’s Extended Care Facility, Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home, Hale Anuenue, Life Care Center, the new Regency Hilo and approximately 168 regulated beds in private care homes.

The average monthly census at Hilo Medical Center’s outdated Extended Care Facility has decreased from 72 residents last summer to 33 last month. “This national trend of aging in place has right-sized our long term care unit. Over the past nine months, 60 dual-insured patients were discharged to private care facilities and to the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home,” said Dan Brinkman, HHSC East Hawaii Regional CEO. “Thirteen patients with limited financial resources accepted residency at Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua and another 13 at Ka‘u Hospital. Eleven patients declined these regional options and were accepted at Hilo Medical Center’s Extended Care Facility.”

Fewer long term care beds reduce staffing requirements at the Extended Care Facility from approximately 100 employees last summer to a projected 44 this summer. The administrative team at Hilo Medical Center has been working with affected employees to retrain and utilize their services in other departments and clinics. According to Brinkman, “no formal reduction in force is needed. 21 staff have been successfully placed in other positons in the acute hospital and clinics and we will continue this retraining process with the remaining impacted employees.

“Reducing the number of available resident rooms in our Extended Care Facility will allow us to re-configure and centralize the floor plan. This will boost our efficiency and allow us to improve the quality of life for our residents,” said Brinkman. “Major funding is not available to renovate or replace the Extended Care Facility, but we can now make improvements that will make a big difference in the daily lives of our residents.”

  • The number of residents living in each room will decrease from four to three, easing overcrowding and meeting minimum square footage requirements set by Medicare.
  • With fewer resident rooms in service, tackling restroom renovations will be possible including hazardous material abatement, new tile flooring, new fixtures and updated safety equipment. The estimated cost of these renovations is $300,000 and will be funded from savings realized.
  • An engineering assessment is being conducted to analyze the feasibility of installing air conditioning units in the remaining resident rooms.

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About Hilo Medical Center

As the Big Island's leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care, Hilo Medical Center (HMC) delivers a full range of services and programs. Our 20-acre campus consists of 276 beds located throughout the 137-bed acute hospital, 20-bed behavioral health unit and a 119-bed long-term care facility. We have 1,000 employees and a medical staff comprised of 250 physicians, physician assistants and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, representing 33 specialties. As a medical center, we have a network of nine outpatient clinics offering primary and specialty care. The hospital is a Level III Trauma Center which includes the second busiest emergency room in the state that provides 24-hour care to more than 44,000 patients annually. 

HMC ranks in the top 2% of hospitals in country and best in the state of Hawaii for preventing Hospital Acquired Conditions, according to CMS in 2015. The hospital is also a recipient of the 2015 Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award™ and a past recipient of the Mountain Pacific Quality Health's Quality Achievement Award. In 2015, we received the American Heart Association Gold Award for cardiac care. In 2013 and 2014, we were also recognized for quality long term care by Providigm for Quality Assurance & Performance Improvement Accredited Facility and Embracing Quality Award for the Prevention of Hospital Readmissions. Our long term care met the requirements for the American Health Care Association's Three Tier Level Quality Initiative Recognition Program.

In 2014, HMC's EMR team, HealthConnect, attained the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) Meaningful Use Stage 2. In addition, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) recognized HMC for achieving Stage 7 on the EMR Adoption ModelSM. HMC was received the HIMSS Nicholas E. Davies Award for Excellence in 2015 for demonstrating EMR utilization to improve quality of care and financial management.

We are part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, a public entity established in 1996 by the State of Hawaii to fulfill the promise to provide quality, hometown healthcare. For more information, go to: www.hilomedicalcenter.org.

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