Memorial Hospital intensive care unit closes
PAWTUCKET – Memorial Hospital permanently closed its intensive care unit on Monday.
The ICU was shut down in coordination with the Department of Health Sunday night as part of parent company Care New England’s phased process to close the hospital, CNE said in a statement Monday.
News of the ICU’s closure came to light on Friday when Memorial Chief Administrative Officer Joe Oriti and Chief Medical Officer Raymond Powrie sent an internal memo to all medical staff that the intensive care unit would be closed as of Monday, Nov. 13. The memo instructs first responders not to transport patients to the Memorial emergency room and issues internal directives to all medical and nursing staff dramatically limiting the types of patients who may be admitted for care at the hospital while Care New England’s application to shutter the hospital is pending.
“With the diminution of clinical capability at Memorial due to the closure of the Intensive Care Unit, please note that patients with either suspected or diagnosed conditions listed below should not be admitted to Memorial Hospital effective Nov. 13,” the memo states.
The memo also instructs EMS services not to transport to the hospital’s emergency department any patients with 36 neurological, cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, gastrointestinal and other conditions, including embolic and hemorrhagic stroke, acute myocardial infraction, shock, pneumonia with impending respiratory failure, acute renal failure, gastrointestinal bleeding and major trauma, to name a few.
In addition to the conditions listed, the memo said affective immediately, elective surgery will only be performed at Memorial for low risk patients.
In a statement on Monday, Care New England confirmed said the ICU was closed as part of the phased plan to close the hospital. The closure of the ICU was determined to be in the best interest of patient care and was coordinated with the Department of Health.
According to CNE, the ICU has been averaging just one or two patients a day and was not able to admit and care for the most critically ill patients normally cared for in an ICU, due to limited availability of specialty physicians.
“In recent months, such critically ill patients have been appropriately diverted or transferred to other ICUs that were able to better meet their medical needs,” the CNE statement said. “Any patients remaining in the ICU as of today (Nov. 13) have been provided with care options at other ICUs or stepdown facilities including Kent Hospital, a CNE facility, or an appropriate location of the patient’s choosing.”
The hospital leadership says it will continue to meet regularly with state and local leaders to ensure open dialogue, information sharing, and details on the phased steps that are necessary for hospital closure planning.
“We remain committed to our patients, Memorial colleagues, and the community as we continue to adapt to the shifting trends in health care and further our commitments to health care in this region and throughout the state,” said James E. Fanale, CNE executive vice president, chief operating officer, and chief clinical officer, said Monday.
“Memorial Hospital is losing close to $2 million dollars each month that it continues to operate as an underutilized, full-service hospital,” he said. “While the decision to close the hospital is difficult, this will help us move the community in the best direction possible to better meet future health care needs and ensure the future viability of the larger health system and needs of the state.”
Care New England’s decision to close Memorial Hospital’s ICU was blasted Monday by United Nurses and Allied Health Professionals, which called the decision an attempt to sidestep state regulators and dismantle critical hospital services.
“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,” UNAP General Counsel Chris Callaci said in a statement Monday.
“We are continuing to review the situation and hope to work with local and state leaders to preserve critical services and jobs at Memorial Hospital for as long as possible,” he said.