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Release Date: 02/29/2016
The Care New England Health System Board of Directors today announces a restructuring at Memorial Hospital in response to the shifting national health care industry’s focus from inpatient hospital care to outpatient preventative and primary care.

Memorial, which affiliated with Care New England in 2013, has operated for more than a century as a medical/surgical hospital and serves as a major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for primary care (family and internal medicine). Under the restructuring, the hospital plans to shift its Birthing Center, one medical/surgical inpatient unit and the intensive care unit (ICU) to other Care New England facilities, while strengthening other services offered on the Pawtucket campus. The hospital will work with the appropriate regulatory officials for the approval required to make these changes.

“On a national level, the Affordable Care Act emphasizes population health care, which calls upon health care facilities to keep people well through preventative measures instead of just treating them in hospitals when they are sick,” says Dennis D. Keefe, president and CEO of Care New England. “This trend is forcing facilities and systems to redefine themselves to be more streamlined and responsive to the needs of the people we serve.”

This national shift, coupled with what experts say is a 200-hospital bed surplus in Rhode Island and flagging inpatient income at Memorial, prompted the move, he adds.

“We have invested millions of dollars in upgrades to the physical plant and IT systems at Memorial, and hired new specialists in an attempt to improve the dire financial situation that existed there when we first affiliated in 2013,” Keefe said “We believe that continuing to invest in Memorial as it is currently structured and not rightsizing our staffing level would be fiscally irresponsible.”

According to Michael Dacey, MD, president of Memorial, the changes planned at the hospital will create a largely outpatient facility with a wide assortment of primary care and specialty services on site, as well as an Emergency Department, orthopedic and outpatient surgical services, and a small inpatient unit. The existing Center for Rehabilitation, which offers inpatient and outpatient services, will also remain open. 

Planned changes at Memorial include: 

  • Obstetrical services, which will move to Kent or Women & Infants hospitals, both part of the Care New England system, pending regulatory approval.
  • Inpatient rotations for the Memorial internal Medicine Residency Program will move to Kent and continue at the Providence VA Hospital.

Changes that will be made throughout the Care New England system include:

  • Consolidating lab services.
  • Eliminating duplicative positions, which will result in an undetermined number of layoffs.

“What Memorial does best – as evidenced by its role as a teaching affiliate with the Alpert Medical School – is primary care, and that will remain open for patients on the campus,” Dacey says. “Other specialties such as pulmonary/sleep medicine, nutrition, cardiology, The Cancer Center, The Endoscopy Center, the New England Pediatric Institute of Neurodevelopment, and clinics for dermatology, cardiology, gastroenterology, geriatrics and rheumatology will remain in operation. 

“We realize that there is concern about the relocation of the obstetrical service,” Dacey continues. “But, we know the state already has sufficient obstetrical beds, and we believe there is already sufficient choice in the community to satisfy the diverse preferences of parents-to-be. We encourage the community advocates to engage with us in order to understand that we are continuing to provide availability of a family practice-assisted birth as well as to ensure that the maternity services of Care New England are fully responsive to their needs.” 

Work on the restructuring plan begins immediately, and it will take several months to complete. 

“The overarching imperative with all of these changes is that we continue to deliver quality care through a sustainable network that meets the needs of our patients,” Keefe concludes. For more information about physicians seeing patients at Memorial Hospital, call the Physician Referral Line at 800-647-4362.

About Care New England

Care New England, located in Rhode Island, was founded in 1996 by Butler Hospital, Kent Hospital and Women & Infants Hospital. Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island joined the system as a hospital partner in 2013. Care New England is an integrated health care system that offers a continuum of quality care. The system includes primary care and specialty physicians; three teaching hospitals affiliated with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Butler, Memorial and Women & Infants; a community hospital, Kent; a visiting nurse and home care agency, the VNA of Care New England; and Care New England Wellness Center.
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