Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
News : Recent Press Releases     Op-Ed     Publications     About the Legislative Press Bureau Printer Friendly View
3/4/2021 Administrative actions at Zambarano leading to 'shadow closure;' Senator de la Cruz, Representative Place call on hospital to keep doors open

STATE HOUSE, Providence – As they continue to fight to keep the Zambarano Unit of Eleanor Slater Hospital open, Senate Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz, (R-Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield) and Representative David J. Place, (R-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester) have received explosive confirmation of the rumors the state intends to close the skilled care facility, and to discharge patients unable to receive care anywhere else.

According to recently-retired physician administrator/medical director Normand L. Decelles, Jr., M.D., hospital administrators began planning the closure last year under the guise the services were not needed, when in fact administrative failure to modernize health records led to federal funding being cut off.  They began pressuring physicians to discharge patients even though doctors could find no facilities to accept them.

“Because they never invested in a computerized records system, they lost federal funding. Normally, the federal government provides 80 percent of the hospital’s funding…now they have lost $65million a year,” Dr. Decelles told the legislators.

“This is a shocking and appalling failure to follow basic instructions to modernize health records. When they failed to meet federal standards, hospital administrators began an organized campaign to dump these patients out of their home, where they receive care they cannot get anywhere else,” de la Cruz said. “I am absolutely flabbergasted this now resulted in patient abuse. We need to put a stop to this to keep these patients where they are.”

The legislators are calling for both the House and Senate oversight committees to convene hearings on these troubling accusations. They are further calling on the BHDDH administration to freeze all discharges. Additionally, they want administrators to cease efforts to make “qualifying for care” at Zambarano impossible for everyone – including current residents.

“All this time BHDDH claimed the inability to bill was based on ‘patient census issues.’ Dr. Decelles’s comments about failure of the agency to create medical records systems calls into question the BHDDH administration’s integrity,” Representative Place said.

Dr. Decelles penned a detailed, open letter describing the “numerous falsehoods … which make it necessary to write,” the doctor said.  You can view the letter HERE .“I wish to address allegations and judgments by some hospital administrators that Zambarano is not necessary, that current patients should never have been admitted, that those admitted were not properly vetted, and that patients must now leave because they fail newly-developed hospital ‘criteria for admission.’”

With funding gone, hospital administration “wanted 100% of patients discharged by June 2020.” With just 85 patients left, the doctor said the drop in patient census at Zambarano is due to the lack of new admissions and deaths.

“It is not a reflection of the lack of need for our services in RI. Very appropriate candidates for admission are now frozen in Rhode Island’s acute hospital beds with no discharge options,” the doctor said.  Further, staff is being reduced at the facility to the point where there will soon not be enough physicians on staff to care for the patients.

“My other concern is there is so much we don’t know because we aren’t being told – they’re letting staff go – they’ve laid off one doctor, more are retiring…they will be down to two physicians to manage the whole population,” Decelles said.

De la Cruz and Place said they are eager to work with the McKee administration to keep Zambarano patients where they belong, and will continue communicating with the department and the governor to find solutions.

For more information, contact:
Katie Haughey Cardoza, Senate Minority Office
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2708