Union, city officials react to Memorial Hospital closure

By John Krinjak

Email: jkrinjak@abc6.com

Twitter: @johnkrinjakABC6

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WLNE) — The finger pointing has begun, now that Memorial Hospital is shutting down. 

Executives with Care New England announced Tuesday they’ve decided to close the hospital, after a deal to sell it to Prime Healthcare fell through.

"We couldn’t come to terms that would be mutually agreeable to both sides. That doesn’t mean both sides didn’t try," said Care New England COO James Fanale. 

Now hundreds of workers are unemployed and patients will be forced to go elsewhere. 

"It’s devastating, especially for the people who work at the hospital and the patients that they’ve been serving there for more than 100 years," said Chris Callaci, general counsel for the United Nurses and Allied Professionals.

The owner of the hospital, Care New England, lost $68 million last year.

The nurses’ union puts the blame for Memorial closing squarely on mismanagement by hospital executives. 

"It was one misstep after another in terms of the way that they were managing that place. We plan on calling out care new England for the things that they’ve done wrong that have gotten us to this tragic place," said Callaci.

"I don’t think any of us really knew it was coming this fast," said Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, who says the closure took him by surprise.

"Very disappointed in the way Care New England has handled this. We think that they’re not a true partner at this point, and we need to protect the community here and the services that are provided," said Grebien.

Many who live in Pawtucket say the closure will make it much harder to access care.

"I think in terms of convenience it definitely isn’t helping people in Pawtucket," said Solomon Bein. "See if they can make memorial stay or have something else close by."

"We need a hospital. To close a hospital is going to be a very big blow to this city," said Rafael Montanez. 

Nurses’ union leaders say they’ll be working to help their members transition into other jobs.

In the meantime, both the union and Mayor Grebien say they’ll be doing everything they can to at least slow down this closure.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2017