lifespan

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Here’s what’s happening in health care in Rhode Island.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s largest health system posted a $9 million dollar net loss for the 2015 fiscal year. Those losses come in part from Lifespan’s behavioral health entity, Gateway Healthcare.

But total operating revenue is up slightly over the previous year, as are expenses.

In its most recent annual report, Lifespan details more growth: the addition of more than 200 employees, and a boost in the number of outpatient visits over last year.

RIPR

Memorial Hospital is cutting back services and closing its maternity service. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says Rhode Island’s health care system needs more consolidation.

photo by Megan Hall

Consolidation is the name of the health care game right now – but is it good for patients?

Let's review what's in the works in our state right now:

RIPR file photo

Dr. Arun Singh, one of New England’s top cardiac surgeons, is ending surgeries next month after performing more than 20,000 open heart surgeries on adults and children at Rhode Island’s Lifespan hospital system.

Sign’s announcement ``marks the close of a truly remarkable one-of-a-kind era at Rhode Island Hospital and Lifespan,’’ stated Dr. Timothy Babineau, president  and CEO of Lifespan in a message to the hospital community.

National Program of Cancer Registries / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Lifespan has announced plans to partner with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Massachusetts. Lifespan officials say the partnership will provide patients better access to care for rare and complex cancers. The two hospital systems have signed a letter of intent. 

The Providence Preservation Society is asking Rhode Island Hospital to reconsider its plan to demolish the historic southwest pavilion on the hospital’s South Providence campus.

The building, constructed in 1898, is part of the hospital’s original landscape. After feasibility studies in 2010 and earlier this year, the hospital decided that razing the structure was better than restoring the pavilion due to the high cost of restoration.

Lifespan and Care New England, Rhode Island’s two largest hospital systems, have quietly revived merger talks, Lifespan ceo and president, Dr. Timothy Babineau, said today.

In a brief interview, Babineau said the talks ``are in very early stages’’ and are in response to Care New England’s request for partnership proposals that was released last spring.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza considers Victory Place -- offered in April as an alternative ballpark site for the PawSox -- a potential home for the Triple A team, even though Lifespan acquired it earlier this month.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The union representing Rhode Island Hospital nurses and other medical professionals has rejected the latest contract proposal from the Lifespan hospital network, owner of the hospital.

``Our focus now is to continue fighting for a fair and reasonable agreement that represents the sacrifice and commitment that front-line caregivers bring to their job every day,’’ said Helene Macedo, president of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals Local 5808.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The contract for more than two thousand union nurses and technicians at Rhode Island Hospital has been extended through the end of July while the two sides continue negotiations. Union organizers have authorized a strike, although it hasn’t come to that yet.

Rhode Island’s largest health care network will close six group homes by the end of August. Lifespan affiliate, Gateway Healthcare, blames reimbursement rates for the closures.

The closures will affect dozens of adults with substance abuse or mental health diagnoses, and a little more than a dozen kids in state care. They range in age from five to 18. Gateway says Medicaid doesn’t pay enough to cover the cost of their care. Executive office of health and human services secretary Elizabeth Roberts acknowledges that’s a challenge.

As Gov. Gina Raimondo's "Reinvent Medicaid" task force rockets toward the finish line, having recently spelled out more details about how the group recommends finding nearly $90 million dollars in savings from the program, they bring with them plenty of vocal feedback from health care stakeholders around the state. One hospital system, Care New England, has been a more dominant voice at the table, with the group's leader, Dennis Keefe, co-chairing the task force. The voice of the state's largest hospital system, Lifespan, has been less audible.

  Rhode Island’s largest health care system, Lifespan, has just thrown the switch on a new electronic medical records system. Now there’s a single record for every one of the organization’s hundreds of thousands of patients. Dr. John Murphy, Executive Vice President of Physician Services at Lifespan, said that should help doctors better coordinate patient care and recommend only what’s needed.

“There will not be unnecessary testing," said Murphy, "because you can see what was done for every patient just by looking in their record.”

The Teamsters Union Local 251 and Rhode Island Hospital management have reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract that the union says will bring $19 million in improved wages and benefits to workers at the Lifespan hospital network.

The agreement was reached late Friday evening, according to a statement by the union bargaining committee posted on social media.

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