Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal in­ten­sive care unit closes

Woonsocket Call - - Blackstone Valley - By JOSEPH FITZGER­ALD jfitzger­ald@woonsock­et­call.com

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.

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