Community Meetings Scheduled on Healthcare in Pawtucket and Central Falls

Community Meetings Scheduled on Healthcare in Pawtucket and Central Falls

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls are organizing two public meetings to gather community input on next steps to ensure access to healthcare services in the areas around the site of the former Memorial Hospital.

The input gathered at the meetings will build upon the recommendations made in an independent report that analyzed the impact of the closure of Memorial Hospital in 2018 on these communities, and on the state’s healthcare system as a whole. The report, which was required in RIDOH’s decision to allow Care New England to close the hospital, was submitted to RIDOH in February. It is available online.

The dates, times, and locations of the meetings are:

  • Tuesday, March 24th at 6 p.m. at Jenks Jr. High (350 Division St, Pawtucket, RI 02860)
  • Wednesday, March 25th at 6pm at Central Falls City Hall Council Chambers (580 Broad St, Central Falls, RI 02863)

The report included a number of significant findings. These included that the closure of Memorial Hospital’s emergency department reduced access to emergent/urgent care services for residents in the hospital’s service area (including Pawtucket, Central Falls, and a portion of Cumberland) and reduced access to emergency mental health and substance use services. The authors of the report also identified measurable impacts of the closure on other hospitals in the state.

The report calls on a state-led collaborative to take steps to mitigate these impacts. The collaborative will include residents, RIDOH, Care New England (which operated Memorial Hospital), major healthcare providers serving the impacted communities, municipal leaders, insurers, other state agencies, community leaders, the local Health Equity Zone (HEZ), community-based organizations, and philanthropic organizations.

Community and stakeholder input will build upon a series of initial, foundational recommendations made in the report. Those recommendations include having this collaborative:

  • Help ensure access to affordable emergent/urgent care that is linked to primary care within the

service area;

  • Expand access to affordable, integrated primary care within the service area; and
  • Enhance access to affordable substance use disorder services for service area residents.

The report also called on Care New England to take a number of steps. Those steps include promoting their healthcare campus on Brewster Street in Pawtucket or at another location that maintains access to affordable primary care and specialty services within the impacted communities. Care New England was also called upon to maintain their walk-in clinic on the site of the former hospital to ensure walk-in coverage.

At the end of 2017, RIDOH approved Care New England’s application to close Memorial Hospital in a decision that included conditions aimed at addressing immediate needs in the areas of emergency medical response capacity, primary care, and health at the community-level. Among other steps, Care New England was required to:

  • Expand operations at its Family Care Center and Internal Medicine Clinic to open a walk-in clinic in Pawtucket.
  • Provide $300,000 to Pawtucket and $200,000 to Central Falls each year for two years to offset emergency medical services costs associated with transporting patients to other hospitals.
  • Put in place a transportation plan for patients and patients’ families so that individuals with non-emergency chronic conditions won’t have to incur additional costs associated with traveling to receive services that are only offered at another hospital.
  • Maintain Memorial Hospital’s Family Care and Internal Medicine Centers in Pawtucket at their former hours and staffing levels.
  • Invest $100,000 annually in the Pawtucket and Central Falls HEZs.

The 2020 report on the impacts of the closure of Memorial Hospital was developed by John Snow, Inc.