Care New England closes Rhode Island hospital ER
Rhode Island has approved Care New England's proposal to close the emergency department at its Pawtucket, R.I., hospital, the health system said Thursday.
Care New England will shut down Memorial Hospital's emergency department on Monday. The hospital will still provide primary-care services to the area for now, but the health system has also asked the state to allow it to eliminate those services as well.
As part of the ER closure approval, Rhode Island's Department of Health will require Care New England to open a walk-in clinic in Pawtucket. The health system will also pay Pawtucket $300,000 and Central Falls $200,000 for two years to offset patient transportation costs stemming from the ER closure.
"Care New England remains steadfast in its commitment to the development and implementation of our recently outlined comprehensive plan of care for the community moving forward," said Dr. James Fanale, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief clinical officer of Care New England, in a statement.
The move comes as insurers have put more pressure on plan members to avoid costly emergency department care. Insurers and self-insured employers have long tried to encourage plan members to seek care at lower-cost settings. They usually do this by providing incentives, such as lower co-pays, if the patient chooses an urgent-care center over an emergency room when accessing medical care, and now Anthem has denied payment for some inappropriate emergency care.
According to the Department of Health, there are seven other acute-care hospitals within 10 miles of Memorial Hospital.
Care New England is also continuing negotiations with Partners HealthCare of Massachusetts toward a potential merger. Partners HealthCare Chief Financial Officer Peter Markell was quoted in the Boston Business Journal in August saying that Partners was rethinking its proposed plan to acquire Care New England, Rhode Island's second-largest hospital system.
Markell said Partners wanted to see a viable turnaround plan before going forward with the merger given Care New England's $46 million operating loss through the nine months ended June 30 and a recent bond rating downgrade.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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