Kent ends ambulance diversions

PROVIDENCE,RI – The days of turning away ambulances from Kent Hospital in Warwick are over. The medical center made a pledge Tuesday to stop sending ambulances to other hospitals when its emergency room is busy.

Kent's President and CEO Sandra Coletta can tell you all of the health policy reasons for eliminating ambulance diversion. But she's also inspired by a personal experience.

"My husband was playing softball and he got hit by a ball, so I jumped into the ambulance with him. And his sister went to get with his parents," she says. "That ambulance was diverted. So I was there in a strange hospital with his family going to where the ambulance should have gone, not knowing where their son was."

Kent is the first hospital in Rhode Island to eliminate the practice of diverting ambulances. In the past, the emergency room turned away about three to five ambulances a day.

Kent agreed to a redesign of its practices in a 2009 settlement with the family of Michael Woods, who died of a heart attack 3 hours after entering the hospital's emergency room.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you.