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HMC closes Ewa hospital

By Kristen Consillio

LAST UPDATED: 10:21 p.m. HST, Dec 28, 2011

Hawaii Medical Center's Ewa hospital closed to the public on Wednesday, after transferring its last patients to its Liliha facility.

HMC said Wednesday that five remaining Ewa patients were moved to Liliha, which still has about 20 patients.

But it's having a difficult time finding other hospitals and long-term care facilities to take roughly 25 acute and long-term care patients, who need skilled nursing care, an HMC spokeswoman said.

The business and finance offices are still operating at the Ewa facility. Once HMC is able to transfer all patients, it will shutter its Liliha hospital. Both hospitals are expected to close in early January.

Meanwhile, HMC officials said they actually laid off 500 workers on Christmas Eve, more than double the number they had originally announced Friday. The company, which is closing the former St. Francis Medical Centers in Liliha and Ewa, will leave nearly 1,000 workers jobless.

After sending out about 200 notices on Friday, the company subsequently notified 300 more employees not to return to work over the Christmas weekend.

When HMC officials took a closer look at the patient census they realized that there were fewer patients at the hospitals and therefore required fewer workers, an HMC spokeswoman said.

HMC, which has been in bankruptcy since June, was essentially forced to shut down and abandon its plan to sell the hospitals to an affiliate of its lender, Prime Healthcare Services. 

St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii, its largest secured creditor, had objected to the potential sale because the Catholic religious order wouldn't have been repaid the nearly $40 million it was owed.

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