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Memorial Shifts OB, ICU To Other Hospitals; Layoffs Expected

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Memorial Hospital plans to shut down several units at its Pawtucket location. Hospital officials announced births will move either to Kent Hospital or...

Memorial Hospital plans to shut down several units at its Pawtucket location. Hospital officials announced births will move either to Kent Hospital or Women and Infants. 

An intensive care unit will also move to another location within the hospital’s parent system, Care New England.

The restructuring will result in some layoffs, but hospital officials would not yet confirm how many. They say some staff may be offered jobs elsewhere in the system, while duplicative possitions are eliminated.

Regulatory approvals are still required to complete these transitions. Care New England President Dennis Keefe says the hope is to stem more financial losses at the institution.

The news comes at a time when Rhode Island Hospital is waiting for regulatory approval to expand obstetrics services.

Opposition is already building to Memorial Hospital’s plan to close its birthing unit. A coalition of medical professionals, including nurses' unions and professional doulas (birthing guides) has formed to fight the closure. The group says the community needs the birthing center as an alternative to other institutions. But Memorial Hospital president Dr. Michael Dacey says the financially struggling hospital can’t afford to keep it open.

“Memorial is a 295 bed hospital that at times has a census of 50 patients or less. And at times that creates a significant challenge in terms of managing a full service hospital," said Dacey.

Dacey says the hospital plans to refocus on outpatient and preventative health care services. It will maintain an emergency room and an inpatient unit for observing patients. Patients who need a higher level of care, such as trauma patients who need surgery, will be transported to nearby hospitals equipped to care for them.

Memorial Hospital officials say the institution must restructure to avoid losing more money.
Memorial Hospital officials say the institution must restructure to avoid losing more money.