By: Rebecca Turco
PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Dozens of nurses and their supporters picketed outside Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket on Monday afternoon, protesting Care New England’s decision to close the hospital.
United Nurses and Allied Professionals, which represents approximately 150 registered nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals at Memorial, organized the picket.
The protest comes ahead of a RI Health Department public meeting on the non-profit’s application for the hospital closure. It is up to state health officials to determine whether the hospital can close based on the needs of the community and proximity to other hospitals.
"The community needs this hospital,” Karyn Paquin, a long-time nurse at Memorial Hospital, told ABC6 News. "It's hard on the people that are working here and it's hard on the patients that say they don't want the place closed."
Last month, Care New England announced it would shut down the hospital after negotiations with a potential buyer fell through. The non-profit cited millions of dollars in profit losses and fewer daily inpatients.
“The community has spoken and they have chosen to receive their case elsewhere,” Spokesperson Jim Beardsworth said in a statement.
Care New England is helping employees secure jobs within affiliated hospitals and elsewhere through job fairs and other avenues, said Beardsworth.
But the picketing nurses say Care New England is not being transparent about which jobs could be terminated.
Union President Rita Brennan blames the profit losses, in part, on the hospital’s downsizing since Care New England acquired it in 2013 – including the closure of the maternity unit and, most recently, the ICU.
"With that goes foot traffic, goes people that would be coming here for a plethora of other services that no longer come here," she explained.
Below is the full statement from Care New England about today’s picket:
While we respect the union's right to hold today's informational picket, the fact remains we simply cannot continue to operate Memorial Hospital on a handful of inpatients each day while continuing to incur monthly losses of approximately $2 million. The community has spoken and they have chosen to receive their care elsewhere.
Further, we continue to support our employees and assist them in securing job opportunities both across CNE and elsewhere including hosting a series of job fairs with more scheduled this week. In addition, we are committed to the continuity of care for the residents of Blackstone Valley with community-based services offered through CNE and other providers as we adapt to the shifting health care needs of the future.
This is a complex process that takes careful consideration and planning. We have and will continue to update both staff and the community on developments as they are finalized.
© WLNE-TV 2017