Kalaupapa State Employee Work Days Cut
By Melissa Kelsey
Patients at Kalaupapa enjoy three hot meals each day, thanks to the settlement’s resident cooks employed by the State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH). Starting in July, some of those meals could be at risk, as a result of a $730 million gap in the state’s budget.
For the next two years, Governor Linda Lingle will require all state employees to take three unpaid “furlough” days off each month, in an effort to balance the state’s budget, according to her June 1 speech announcing the budget cuts. To comply with the initiative, Kalaupapa Acting Administrator Tim Richmond has suggested closing the settlement’s kitchen for three Saturdays each month. Kalaupapa resident and DOH employee Shannon Crivello said the move would reduce the quality of patient care. If the kitchen closed for those Saturdays, workers would prepare three cold meals for the patients ahead of time on Fridays.
“The bottom line is that the patients need to eat nutritious, hot meals,” said Crivello. “Our patients need quality and the furlough will affect the quality of care.”
Kalaupapa resident and DOH employee Marco Jordan said Richmond is open to other alternative plans to meet the legislative requirement. However, Jordan thinks Kalaupapa should be exempt from the required state employee furloughs since it is the responsibility of the state to care for patients at Kalaupapa.
“The state only sees numbers, but for Kalaupapa, this will change the quality of care,” said Jordan.
All state workers at Kalaupapa will be affected by the work day cuts. Nursing and other aspects of patient care could also be affected, according to Jordan.