Care New England Health System closed Memorial Hospital’s intensive care unit Monday, prompting accusations by the hospital’s union that it violated state regulatory procedures.
But Care New England and officials at the Rhode Island Departmen
t of Health said the closure was done “in the best interest of patient care” and in cooperation with state regulators as part the hospital's planned closure.
The ICU has been averaging one or two patients per day and was not able to care for those most critically ill due to limited availability of specialty physicians, Care New England said in a statement. Patients are being redirected to Kent Hospital or another hospital “of the patient’s choosing,” the statement said.
Care New England officials on Friday notified Memorial’s medical staff that they planned to close the ICU as of Monday. First-responders were instructed not to transport patients to Memorial’s emergency room and the hospital is under instructions to “dramatically” limit the types of patients being admitted for care, according to a statement released Monday by the United Nurses and Allied Health Professional
“This is a blatant and irresponsible attempt by Care New England to sidestep the reverse certificate of need process and begin shuttering Memorial Hospital before state regulators have authorized any such measures,’’ Chris Callaci, general counsel for UNAP, said in the statement.
UNAP Local 5082 represents approximately 150 registered nurses, social workers, pharmacists, laboratory technologists and other health professionals at Memorial.
The nonprofit health system announced last month that it is closing Memorial after years of losses and declining use of its in-patient beds. Memorial lost more $16.3 million during the first nine months of the fiscal year -- the most of any of hospital in its system.
In a separate announcement Monday, Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien said he and Governor Gina Raimondo and Central Falls Mayor James Diossa had sent a written request to Care New England to identify which out-patient services will remain on Pawtucket Memorial campus after the hospital closes.
Rhode Island’s second-largest hospital system announced plans earlier this year to sell to Massachusetts-based Partners HealthCare. But so far, neither health system has filed the needed requests with the state to approve the deal.
Care New England has reported a nine-month operating loss of $46.5 million.