UNAP: Care New England trying to merge Kent, Memorial hospitals

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A nurses union is claiming that Care New England is operating behind the scenes to pave the way for a merger between Memorial and Kent hospitals.

The United Nurses and Allied Professionals, which represents nurses and other staff members at Memorial, told Eyewitness News it learned of the new development after obtaining new documents through an access to public records act request.

The group said the documents show that Care New England not only wants to formally merge the two hospitals but says the company is also seeking to avoid rigorous review processes required by the state.

The union is at odds with Care New England over its proposal to shut down both the maternity ward and Intensive Care Unit at Memorial – and recall those services to Kent Hospital in Warwick and Woman and Infants Hospital in Providence. The moves would eliminate nearly 200 jobs.

The Health Department has been holding public hearings as part of the process, which UNAP alleges hospital executives are trying to circumvent.

The union said employees at the birthing center received notice they would be laid off and the center closed on March 14 – well before the typically 90-day process was completed.

Care New England issued a response Thursday, saying:

“In view of the serious financial losses being incurred at Memorial, it is no secret that Care New England has pursued many different options for improving the hospital’s financial viability. This included the possibility of pursuing a single license for Memorial and Kent – a strategy that UNAP was aware of over one year ago.  In fact, we engaged in discussions over a master agreement with UNAP that would allow for the transfer of employees among the hospitals.

For a variety of reasons right now, the work toward a single license for Kent and Memorial is no longer under consideration at Care New England.

We will continue to explore every option to improve the financial strength of our system and look forward to the input and cooperation of all our partners.”

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