Study: Rhode Island Has Too Many Hospital Beds

Mar 25, 2013

Rhode Island could do with the equivalent of one fewer hospital. That’s the conclusion of a draft report meant to guide the state’s health care planning.

How many hospital beds do we need?
Credit US Navy

The General Assembly commissioned an analysis of what hospital services Rhode Island has compared towhat it actually needs, and whether there’s a discrepancy. A draft of that report finds that we probably have about 200 hospital beds too many – the equivalent of a whole hospital. And because every hospital bed costs money to keep available, says health department director Michael Fine, excess beds add unnecessary cost to the system.

“We’re going to have to find a way to shrink the number of hospitals and the number of hospital beds in an orderly, responsible, and economically viable way. If we don’t, then we can’t shrink the cost of health insurance," said Fine.

Authors of the Health Care Planning and Accountability Advisory Council report recommend that state policymakers carefully consider each hospital acquisition and consolidation to make sure it’s aimed at improving the population’s health, and not simply rescuing a financially troubled organization.

The report’s authors also find that Rhode Islanders are willing to travel for hospital care. And more people are traveling to Rhode Island hospitals than to hospitals out-of-state.