United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5082 filed a lawsuit in Superior Court today in an effort to preserve healthcare services and jobs at Pawtucket‘s Memorial Hospital.
The union contends that critical provisions in the Hospital Conversions Act (HCA) have been ignored by Care New England (CNE) as it haphazardly sought to eliminate operations at Memorial Hospital (MHRI) without following any regulations.
“The Department of Health has allowed Care New England to circumvent the Hospital Conversions Act and now we are asking the Court to restore integrity to the regulatory process,” said Chris Callaci, UNAP general counsel.
In November, CNE indicated to the Rhode Island Department of Health that it would close Memorial Hospital and transfer Memorial Hospitals’s assets to one of its affiliates, Kent Hospital. The HCA says that transfers of 20 percent or more of the assets of a hospital in Rhode Island requires approval by both the Department of Health and the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General. UNAP contends that any attempt to transfer assets, services or licensing from MHRI to Kent Hospital must be regulated according to the HCA.
Additionally, CNE set in motion a series of events designed to eliminate the emergency department and primary care services at MHRI without submitting appropriate applications and plans to the Department of Health.
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“The plans Care New England submitted to Health are inconsistent, incomplete and cannot be used to gauge the impact Memorial’s closure will have on the community it has served for more than 100 years,” Callaci said.
The union is seeking an order from the court recognizing that CNE and MHRI failed to comply with HCA regulations and preventing them from taking any further steps in the overall restructuring of CNE, or eliminating any additional healthcare services or jobs at MHRI until an appropriate review is complete by state regulators under the provisions of the HCA.
“The HCA was enacted to protect patients, communities and health professionals and we respectfully urge the Court to hold the Department of Health and Care New England accountable to follow all appropriate state laws and regulations as this process continues to unfold,” said Callaci.