Memorial Hospital to close birthing center

The Rhode Island Department of Health has approved a proposal from Providence, R.I.-based Care New England Health System to transfer obstetrics services from Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, R.I., to Warwick, R.I.-based Kent Hospital and Providence-based Women & Infants Hospital.

The decision with conditions requires Care New England to provide transportation for patients to other hospitals within the network, and to submit a plan to replicate Memorial Hospital's birthing experience at another Care New England hospital, the department said. The move also cannot take place before Aug. 1.

"Care New England's current financial situation has serious implications, not just for Memorial Hospital, but for patients, communities and employees throughout Rhode Island," Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, director of health at the department, said in a prepared statement. "We listened carefully to the community throughout this process. Our decision is responsive to those who expressed their preference for Memorial's unique birthing environment, while at the same time helping to ensure that people throughout Rhode Island continue to receive quality, affordable care."

The department's decision comes months after Memorial Hospital officials announced plans to shut down the hospital's birthing center and one of its medical/surgical inpatient units. The intensive care unit at Memorial will also close and move to another location within Care New England's network. Various entities, including he cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, R.I., have fought against the proposal.

Care New England released a statement, saying its plan is to follow the conditions set forth by the department in the decision, with no interruption in care. It added that communication — in English and Spanish — will go to all women who had been scheduled to deliver their babies at Memorial from Aug. 1 forward, inviting them to visit and tour Care New England's other facilities.


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