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Rhode Island hospital closure stretches resources of Lifespan ERs

After Pawtucket, R.I-based Memorial Hospital closed last year, The Miriam Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital, both in Providence and operated by Providence-based Lifespan, are caring for more patients — causing the emergency rooms to operate at capacity, RIPR reports.

Although there are proposed plans to purchase and reopen Memorial Hospital, the facility is currently closed, leaving staff at other hospitals struggling to care for an influx of ER patients.

"The waiting room where patients walk in [is] standing room only," Melissa Arruda, a nurse at Rhode Island Hospital, told RIPR. "There are 15 stretchers lined up where the ambulances come in in an area that really should only hold five."

With the ER operating at capacity, it often runs out of stretchers, and nurses must look for more just to get patients out of ambulances, Ms. Arruda said.

The number of hours on diversion at Rhode Island Hospital increased 80 percent from January through July compared to the same period in 2017, according to state health department data cited by RIPR.

Diversion hours at The Miriam Hospital rose over 200 percent during the first seven months of this year compared to the same period in 2017, state health department data shows. Lifespan increased staffing levels and added a 10-bed unit in Miriam's emergency department, officials said.

The presidents of Miriam and Rhode Island hospitals testified during public hearings on how Memorial's closure affected the two hospitals' ED patient volumes.

"With the number of patients and the inability to get them seen, we have sicker patients waiting longer than we would like," Ms. Arruda said. "As the nurse, that is never your intention."

Lifespan said their patients are receiving excellent care and the health system strives to treat everyone in a timely manner, according to RIPR.

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