JSI report: Memorial closure cut off access to care

JSI report: Memorial closure cut off access to care

PAWTUCKET – A new report from consulting firm John Snow Inc. finds that the January 2018 closure of Memorial Hospital removed critical health care services for local residents with great health needs, resulting in long-term impacts on communities and other area health providers given the lack of strategies to deal with the impacts.

“The JSI report clearly shows a need for emergency services in Pawtucket and the Blackstone Valley,” said Mayor Grebien in a statement following the release of the report from John Snow Inc. “The city has continued to stress this since Care New England first made its decision to close Memorial Hospital. We will continue to work alongside the Rhode Island Department of Health to ensure adequate solutions to the needs of our residents are found.”

He said officials look forward to a series of community meetings planned in Pawtucket and Central Falls to be held in the middle of March.

The JSI report finds that portions of Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Cumberland were responsible for a higher rate of emergency room use than other parts of the state, and that those within the hospital’s service area are particularly vulnerable.

Those residents made ER visits for emergency and primary care treatment, and with the hospital closed, are now going to the emergency room less often.

“The findings of the report need to be communicated to our residents, and our residents’ voices need to be heard as well,” Grebien said. “The city is encouraged that this data-driven, independent analysis sends a strong signal to the community that their needs are known and the state will help work to restore the needed services.”

The report, paid for by Memorial operator Care New England, was supposed to be completed more than a year ago, but state officials said they had difficulty finding a consultant.

The report finds that, if there hadn’t been an agreement to eliminate key health services at Memorial in 2017, emergency room visits would have remained close to 30,000 per year.

JSI recommends, among other things, that Care New England maintain and promote a health care campus at the former hospital site.

Dr. James Fanale, president and CEO of Care New England, told WPRI that an overall decrease in ER usage statewide is consistent with a long-term goal of discouraging people from using emergency rooms for primary care needs, and is not unique to this situation.