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.

Brain researchers are hoping more Rhode Islanders will enroll in the state’s Alzheimers Disease prevention registry. The goal is to find candidates for clinical trials to find new therapies for Alzheimers.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Workers at Rhode Island Hospital have threatened to strike as contract negotiations reach an impasse. A federal mediator has been called in to help broker a deal between the hospital and members of the Teamsters union. The Teamsters represent certified nurses’ assistants and unit assistants, people who help care for patients.

What could a strike mean for patients and employees? Rhode Island Public Radio’s health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joins host Dave Fallon to sort through the issues.

Members of the Teamsters union working at Rhode Island Hospital voted Wednesday evening to authorize a strike. Don’t expect to see picket lines immediately.

The vote simply gives union leadership the authority to give the hospital 10 days' notice before striking. But members could walk off the job in a couple of weeks if they don’t reach a new contract deal with hospital management. A federal mediator has been called in, according to hospital officials.

CVS Health

Lifespan hospitals and CVS pharmacy’s walk-in health clinics say they’ve agreed to share patients’ electronic medical records.

Lifespan is Rhode Island’s biggest health system, and it’s in the midst of implementing a brand new electronic medical records system. A spokeswoman for Lifespan says there’s no timeline yet for the collaboration with CVS Health (formerly CVS Caremark), and the details still have to be worked out. But sometime after the system is live, the two organizations will be able to share information about patients.

Lifespan, one of Rhode Island's largest employers, is implementing a new policy that will make employees who use tobacco products pay a surcharge.

The policy will tack on an extra $600 a year to the medical benefits of any employee or spouse or domestic partner covered by company insurance who uses tobacco products. That includes cigarettes, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Lifespan will also offer employees free smoking cessation programs.

Lifespan’s CEO says it’s a way to encourage employees to quit.   

The Bradley School is leaving its home on the grounds of Bradley Hospital for a new facility in Providence. Bradley officials say they plan to make the move on September first.

A letter sent to Bradley parents says the school will now share space with the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program, a school for students who have fallen behind and are at serious risk for dropping out. The letter touts larger classrooms, a cafeteria and a newly constructed gymnasium.

The state’s largest hospital chain and largest insurer have inked an agreement to share patient data that will help them look for ways to improve health and save money. The deal is the largest of its kind in the state and could shape health care for more than 35,000 Rhode Islanders.

A bill is making its way through Rhode Island's General Assembly that would legalize marijuana and regulate and tax it like alcohol. Possessing small amounts has already been decriminalized here. And interest has been growing in legalization for a while.

Proponents say that legalizing the drug would keep harmless people out of jail. Opponents say marijuana is just as dangerous as any other drug and should remain illegal.

The arguments are heating up.