Pawtucket, Central Falls Mayors call on Care New England to reopen shuttered Memorial Hospital

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa and Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien said the hospital should be reopened so the state can prepare for the expected surge of patients related to the coronavirus.

PAWTUCKET, RI (WLNE) – The Mayors of Pawtucket and Central Falls have written a joint letter to the owners of the Memorial Hospital property to reopen the shuttered hospital.

“We are writing to you to request that you as the owner of the Memorial Hospital campus assist the State and our communities by re-opening the shuttered Memorial Hospital to provide all essential services to support our communities during the crises,” the letter to Care New England said.

Memorial Hospital has been closed since December 2017.

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa and Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien said the hospital should be reopened so the state can prepare for the expected surge of patients related to the coronavirus.

“We need something here in Blackstone Valley. Care New England, who’s a partner and still owns this facility, is a non-profit [and] has an obligation to the community,” Grebien said. “How do we get a testing site then a respiratory site if we need to.”

“I’d rather be prepared and know it’s there once we hit this surge, than having to back-step and figure out how we’re going to open this because the surge is already here,” Diossa said.

The mayors believe it can be done through the Federal CARES Act.

“The legislation is making available $100 billion to reimburse eligible health care providers for health care-related expenses or lost revenues not otherwise reimbursed that are directly attributable to COVID-19,” Grebien and Diossa wrote in their letter. ” CNE is a non-profit operation so this organization would fall in line with this funding. Here, you have the opportunity to make good on the residents and our State.

Back in February, the Rhode Island Department of Health released a report on the impact of the hospital’s closure.

When asked last week about the possibility of Memorial Hospital reopening to help with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pawtucket spokesperson said, “If the State makes the decision to reopen the Memorial Hospital site for COVID-19, we will be standing by ready to help in any way that we can.”

But Governor Raimondo fired back at the mayors’ comments, saying they have conversations everyday with all the other mayors in the state, and everyone is trying to figure out the best plan of action.

“Public statements like that on the basis of limited information aren’t very helpful right now,” Raimondo said at her daily briefing Tuesday. “Memorial Hospital would be incredibly expensive to reopen. Are we looking at it? Yes. Are we looking at another 15-20 alternatives? Yes.”

Diossa and Grebien said that they are ready to act, adding that the lights are still on at the hospital, as well as heat and electricity. Pawtucket does quarterly checks of the building.

“We’re not asking you to come in and operate the building. We’re willing to assist as well because this is going to be a very big concern in the next few weeks,” Diossa said.

Care New England’s CEO, Dr. James Fanale, responded to the letter from Grebien and Diossa.

“The DOH is currently examining numerous sites for the ability to serve a specific purpose in the event of a COVID-19 surge,” Fanale said in a statement. “We will continue to partner closely with them and other healthcare providers on the determination of best geographic location for capacity and care.”

 

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Pawtucket, Rhode Island