OP-ED

What are legislative leaders doing to save Kent Hospital?

Posted 5/3/22

By PATRICIA CRINER, RN

My name is Patricia Criner. I am an ICU nurse at Kent hospital and president of the Union. Our union represents over 1,500 terrific, dedicated employees. It has been very …

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OP-ED

What are legislative leaders doing to save Kent Hospital?

Posted

By PATRICIA CRINER, RN

My name is Patricia Criner. I am an ICU nurse at Kent hospital and president of the Union. Our union represents over 1,500 terrific, dedicated employees. It has been very unsettling for all of us to have the future of our hospital in doubt for a number of years now.

State political leaders killed the Partners/Care New England agreement on the grounds that there needed to be a“Rhode Island” solution. Then several months ago the “Rhode Island solution” (Lifespan, Brown University and Care New England) was killed, too. Now Kent is in precarious financial straits and its very future in question. Where are our political leaders now and what are they doing to save Kent hospital?

It is easy for our political leaders to oppose one proposal or another as they have done. No Partners agreement, no Lifespan merger. But there is a serious consequence to just saying no.

What are our political leaders for? What is the future for Kent Hospital? We know that Care New England is seeking support from the legislature seeking APRA funds to stabilize its finances. Care New England’s finances were devastated by the pandemic. To its credit, unlike other hospitals, Kent did not close beds or services incurring heavy losses.

But there has been a deafening silence from our legislative leaders on Care New England’s request for help. This is particularly troubling considering the fact that legislative leaders such as House Speaker Shekarchi and Senate Majority Leader McCaffrey are representatives from the Kent service area.

It is an open secret that vultures from the for profit world are circling Kent Hospital.

Stonebridge, an entity that does not own a single hospital, attempted a hostile takeover within hours of the announced Lifespan/Care New England rejection by the Federal Trade commission and the Attorney General. Prime HealthCare and Prospect Medical Holdings are also interested.

Both organizations are deeply flawed with very questionable records. Prime HealthCare owns Landmark Medical Center. They have a shameful record of Medicare fraud having to pay over $100 million in penalties. Prospect Medical Holdings currently owns CharterCare (Roger Williams and Fatima Hospitals). Prospect Medical Holdings is trying to sell all of their east coast hospitals and it is trying to exit Rhode Island by putting CharterCare up for sale. Prospect Medical Holdings recently borrowed over $1 billion and paid out nearly ~ a billion dollars in dividends and other expenses.

Is one of these entities going to be the default option for Kent Hospital because the legislature sits on its hands and does nothing? It will be a tremendous and permanent loss for our community to lose control of a non-profit, community based hospital like Kent to an out of state for profit concerned with profits instead of patients. So, I ask again, what are our legislative leaders doing to save our hospital?

Trish Criner, RN is the president of United Nurses and Allied Professionals Local 5008.

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