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UNAP, Care New England reach agreement to save jobs at Memorial Hospital



The United Nurses and Allied and Professionals (UNAP) Local 5082 and representatives from Care New England (CNE) have reached an agreement on the scope of healthcare services and jobs that will remain on the campus of Memorial Hospital and other Pawtucket sites moving forward.

Per the terms of a negotiated agreement, CNE will maintain as many as 200 jobs at the Pawtucket site as Memorial transitions from a full-service community hospital to a family care and internal medicine facility that will include a walk-in clinic.

“We are pleased that this agreement creates a tangible plan for the continuation of important healthcare services and jobs in Pawtucket and the Blackstone Valley,” said Chris Callaci, UNAP general counsel. “Part of the agreement requires the parties to actively work with local officials in reaching out of the community to advance this model and the UNAP looks forward to doing its part,” Callaci said.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo released a statement in response to the agreement, saying, “The plan released today is comprehensive and will ensure that Rhode Islanders in Pawtucket and across Blackstone Valley continue to have access to high quality health services. As I’ve said all along, no one should lose their job because of this decision and Care New England needs to provide a plan for how they will continue to serve Pawtucket and the Blackstone Valley. My administration will continue to work with CNE on this transition and will hold the system accountable to implementing this proposed plan.”

Last week, UNAP filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in an effort to preserve healthcare services and jobs at Memorial. That filing has been withdrawn as a result of this agreement.

“We are grateful to Mayors Donald Grebien and James Diossa for advocating not only on behalf of the people of their communities, but for urging that UNAP be brought into the process. We worked well and quickly with CNE leaders on this particular agreement and hope to continue in a relationship of mutual trust and respect moving forward,” Callaci said.

Per the terms of the agreement, the following services are expected to continue on the campus of Memorial Hospital:

  • Family Care and Internal Medicine Centers: At the site in Pawtucket primary care physicians and nurse practitioners will provide comprehensive health care services in the outpatient clinic setting.  What this means is that they will continue to treat general medical needs and provide care for a vast array of non-emergency health conditions. For example, primary care providers treat acute medical conditions such as the common cold, sinus infections, stomach problems and skin rashes, but they also treat chronic health problems such as depression, asthma, high blood pressure and allergies. This also includes services currently provided in the Family Care Center by a part-time nutritionist and by a part-time psychologist. They also provide preventive care and coordinate any specialty care patients need, treating each as a whole person with unique experiences and concerns. These will continue to be delivered in a way that is patient-centered, coordinated and committed to quality and safety. Currently, the Family Care and Internal Medicine Centers have approximately 20,000 patient primary care visits per year. It CNE’s hope that it will be able to maintain a comparable volume of patient activity at the Pawtucket site.
  • Ancillary Services: There will be certain ancillary services commonly associated with primary care practices, such as plain-film X-rays (chest films and bone x-rays), mammograms and phlebotomy (blood draws for lab work). CNE hopes to contract for physical and occupational therapy services at our Pawtucket location and to provide diabetes education by certified diabetes educators.
  • Physician Specialties: Subject to retaining grant funding associated with research in pediatric neurodevelopment, CNE plans to continue the pediatrics and pediatric neurodevelopment practices. CNE also expects to make available rotating physician specialty consultations at our primary care site in Pawtucket as appropriate to complement the primary care practice. Initially, the planned specialties include oncology, cardiology (including some cardiology testing), dermatology, pulmonary medicine, sleep medicine and general and orthopedic surgery. CNE will also continue anticoagulation/coumadin clinic services as currently provided at the site. CNE will need to find physicians who are willing to contract to provide several of these services and develop plans that consider feasibility and patient demand and because it wants to assure that the services it offers there can be sustained in the long term.
  • Walk-in Clinic Services: CNE is developing a plan to provide walk-in services to help serve the needs of community members who need ready access to healthcare but do not require hospital level care. This will be helped by the ability to access the physicians and ancillary services CNE will have at our site in Pawtucket and address the needs of many patients who need quick access to care in the local community. Many patients who present in emergency departments do not require hospital level care and CNE believes we will be able to help serve the needs of these patients who would otherwise have presented at an emergency department but are appropriate for outpatient primary care walk-in clinic services for injuries and ailments such as cuts, sprains, and strains, minor traumas, cold, flu and headache. As of now, CNE plans for the walk-in clinic to be open 8:00-5:00 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 8:00 to 8:00 on Wednesdays. People coming to the clinic for care will not need to be existing patients of CNE physician practices to seek primary or urgent care on a walk-in basis and CNE will not turn away any patients based on insurance or ability to pay.

About the Author

UNAP Local 5082 represents approximately 150 registered nurses, social workers, pharmacists, laboratory technologists and other health professionals at Memorial Hospital.