The state of Rhode Island has stopped Memorial Hospital from moving forward with plans to close some units.
Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket said Monday that it planned to lay off employees and close its birthing center, one of its surgical departments and its intensive care unit.
Two days later, it sent the state an application requesting to close its birthing center.
The very next day, the Director of Rhode Island's Department of Health, Nicole Alexander-Scott, released a statement saying Memorial could not move forward with its plans until a public hearing was held.
“Memorial Hospital is obligated to continue providing all existing services to patients. Memorial Hospital is not permitted, until the process is complete, to make any changes to the primary or emergency services currently offered, including maternal and delivery services,” she said.
The United Nurses and Allied Professionals Local 5082, which represents some nurses at the hospital, said employees of the birthing center were told they would be laid off on March 14, according to local news reports.
Memorial wanted to move the obstetrics unit to Kent Hospital in Warwick, R.I., or Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I., both part of the Care New England system.
Memorial joined Care New England two years ago. The system's President and CEO Dennis Keefe said a 200-bed surplus in Rhode Island, “flagging inpatient income” and federal payment changes prompted the proposed changes at Memorial.
Memorial President Dr. Michael Dacey has said he believes the state has sufficient obstetrical beds.
A date for Memorial's public hearing has not yet been set.