Nurses union sues Care New England to halt hospital closure

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United Nurses and Allied Professionals, the union that represents nurses at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, R.I., sued the hospital's parent company and the state to halt the closure of the facility, according to WPRI.

Providence, R.I.-based Care New England, which took over ownership of Memorial Hospital in 2013, announced plans in October to close the hospital after a deal fell through to sell the facility to Prime Healthcare Foundation, the Ontario, Calif.-based nonprofit arm of Prime Healthcare Services. Care New England almost immediately began scaling back services at the hospital. On Nov. 30, the Rhode Island Department of Health ordered Memorial Hospital to stop admitting patients, performing surgeries and accepting emergency patients, citing patient safety concerns.

In its lawsuit, the union alleges Care New England failed to get approval before eliminating certain services and violated state law in its attempt to transfer some services to Kent Hospital in Warwick, R.I.

"The Department of Health has allowed Care New England to circumvent the Hospital Conversions Act and now we are asking the court to restore integrity to the regulatory process," Chris Callaci, general counsel for United Nurses and Allied Professionals, said in a statement to WPRI.

The union is seeking to block any further attempts by Care New England to reduce services at Memorial Hospital without formal approval from regulators.

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