Employees and patients stunned by medical center closing

Published: Dec. 17, 2011 at 12:42 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 17, 2011 at 1:26 AM HST
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Kitty Remilev
Kitty Remilev
Larry Bertlemann
Larry Bertlemann

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNews Now) – "I'm not prepared at all, not at all."  That is what Echo Technologist Kitty Remilev said upon learning she and 990 other workers at Hawaii Medical Center East and West will be losing their jobs when the hospitals close as announced Friday.

"How could you close a hospital? It's not like closing down a restaurant, or a fast food chain.  It's where people live, try to live and get well," Remilev said while wiping away tears.

"We're sad.  Everybody is hurt.  We're like a family.  It's like someone died in the family because that's how we work in there.  It's not just a job for us.  We're a family and now our family ... someone is gone.  We can't be a family like this.  And we're sad and we're worried about our patients naturally," she said.

Remilev said the shut-down will be difficult for displaced workers and patients who will have to find new doctors, nurses, and technicians to treat them.

"They depend on us.  We try to give them the best and now we can't do that anymore.  That's why we're in this field, the medical field, to help people ... heal people, but they've taken that away from us," Remilev said.

Larry Bertlemann is a legend in the surf community.  In the 1970's he was one of the very best surfers on the planet.  Now he depends on the health professionals at MNC East and as he left the facility Friday was surprised to hear it will be closing.

"I'm dumb founded.  What are we going to do?  I mean I've been over here so many years getting operations and stuff.  Take PT over here, physical therapy.  I just had my hip done and my knee done.  And now I don't know what we're going to do," Bertlemann said.

Chuck Sted, President and CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health, which operated the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, Straub Clinic and Hospital and Pali Momi Medical Center, said HPH has vacant positions and will surely hire displaced HMC employees, but there won't be room for all of them, at least not right away.

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