Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island hospitals posted a nearly $59 million dollar operating loss in 2013. That’s just one aspect of a troubling economic picture emerging in a new report on the state of the state’s hospitals.

We've been reporting on what the impacts might be if Governor Lincoln Chafee's proposed cuts to Medicaid take effect - for example, what's at stake for the state's nursing homes.

Thousands of Rhode Islanders have signed up for health insurance in recent weeks, some for the first time. I'm thinking that means some might not be so familiar with our health care system, or they might not know how to keep costs down with plans that carry higher deductibles or out-of-pocket costs.

So... here are a few tools to help you navigate, from finding the highest quality, to keeping costs down, to managing your own health. It's not an exhaustive list, but a start...if you're starting from scratch!

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center is about to turn the page on a long and challenging chapter in its history. The struggling hospital has received regulatory approval to be acquired by a for-profit hospital chain called Prime Healthcare. That means an end to five years of uncertainty for employees, patients, and the community.


The 2013 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly has officially,finally, wrapped up. With that, we turn to Rhode Island Public Radio’s health care reporter Kristin Gourlay for a recap of some of the most significant health legislation to pass and not pass  and how it might affect you.

DAVE: So much happening in health care now in Rhode Island and nationally – from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to rising health care prices. Did legislators tackle any of these big issues this session?


The state’s largest hospital network is making another attempt to trim nearly $150 million in expenses over the next two and a half years. Lifespan has announced another round of layoffs.

You may have heard news yesterday that the federal government has released a greater level of detail on the prices hospitals charge for a list of common procedures and how widely those prices vary - not only from state to state but within states, and  even within the same city. The data comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or CMS), from 3000 hospitals nationwide.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Westerly Hospital will lay off 45 employees, just before its sale to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London, CT is completed.

Westerly’s new owners struck deals with hospital unions early on during acquisition talks. They agreed to keep most clinical positions. The 45 lay-offs don’t conflict with those commitments.

15 of the employees losing their jobs are unionized support staff. The rest are mainly from Westerly’s business office. Those functions will be consolidated at L&M’s headquarters in Connecticut.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island regulators have given their final approval for the sale of Westerly Hospital to the New London-based Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.

The head of Rhode Island’s Department of Health and the state's Attorney General have signed off on the deal to sell Westerly to L&M. Now, the deal is expected to close June first. Westerly Hospital has been in receivership since 2011 and under the leadership of a special master. L&M spokesman Michael O’Farrell says the special master will stay on through the closing date.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A new program has launched to help place new and unemployed nurses in health care facilities statewide for up to nine-month-long paid residencies. It's expected to start with 20 nurses and expand to 40 by the second year, with the first placements beginning this fall.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

How many hospital beds does Rhode Island really need?

That’s one question being considered in a new report from a state health care planning council. It comes at a time when a number of hospitals in the state are either up for sale, looking at new partnerships or struggling financially.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joined Elisabeth Harrison in the studio to talk about the health of the state’s hospitals and some of the surprising findings from this report.

US Navy

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.

The state’s largest hospital system is facing some unanticipated budget shortfalls. Lifespan isn’t saying yet whether the fix will include layoffs.

Lifespan released a statement saying it had asked employees and physicians to review their budgets and look for ways to trim expenses. No word yet on what immediate steps the organization might take to stem the financial losses - but Lifespan says they won’t compromise patient care and that they’ll "work hard to minimize the impact on...employees."

CharterCARE, the umbrella organization for Our Lady of Fatima and Roger Williams hospitals, has announced its intent to partner with Prospect Medical Holdings, a for-profit health care firm based in California. The deal is in its infancy. But it's the fourth proposed hospital merger/acquisition under Rhode Islands Hospital Conversions Act. And it's yet another sign of the shaky financial ground on which many of the state's hospitals now find themselves.

Here's a new online tool to help you decide: