Study examines impact of Rhode Island hospital closure

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) — A new report on the closure of a Rhode Island hospital two years ago says nearby communities have been left with less access to emergency care and put pressure on other area hospital emergency rooms.

The independent report on the January 2018 closure of Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket released this month was compiled by public health research and consulting firm John Snow Inc. and paid for by Care New England, Memorial's operator.

It concluded that Memorial’s closure “removed a nucleus of health care services for communities with high health care need,” including Pawtucket, Central Falls and Cumberland, whose residents have a higher rate of emergency room use than the state as a whole.

Also, the dispersion of patients from Memorial resulted in “an immediate system-wide impact,” evidenced by increased wait times at emergency departments at other area hospitals.

Care New England cited low inpatient rates as one reason for shuttering the financially struggling hospital.

The report's authors proposed a series of actions for Care New England, including the maintenance and promotion of a health care campus at the former site of the hospital.