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3/31/2021 ‘Shadow closure’ of Zambarano continues

Sen. de la Cruz and Rep. Place urge governor to step in and save hospital

 STATE HOUSE, Providence – In the latest move in the “shadow closure” of the Zambarano Unit of Eleanor Slater Hospital, the Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities Administration intends to transfer 20 ventilator patients and employees from Zambarano to the Cranston campus.

“We are confident that once moved, these patients will not be brought back,” said Senate Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz, (R-Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield) and Representative David J. Place, (R-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester).  The legislators have been working to prevent the closure of the hospital, which provides desperately-need care unavailable anywhere else in the state to extremely vulnerable patients.

“The actions BHDDH is taking show a callous disregard for the patients at Zambarano, and this plan was set into motion more than a year ago by Governor Raimondo’s department heads,” Senator de la Cruz said.  “We have been working very hard to shine a light on these actions so Governor McKee can take the opportunity to stop efforts to close Zambarano.” Hospital administrators began planning the closure last year under the guise that services were not needed, and then began pressuring physicians to improperly discharge patients.

The pretext for the latest move is a fire marshal’s inspection report about “leaking isolation valves” in the hospital’s oxygen system for ventilator patients.  The lawmakers were told the BHDDH administration voluntarily pointed out the problem after the comprehensive inspection was completed with the intent to getting cited and used the inspection as the excuse to move the patients. It is important to know that the leaks were identified several years ago and no action to fix the problem was taken.

“Actions like these are in direct contradiction of BHDDH’s public statements saying they are keeping the hospital open,” Representative Place said. “Governor McKee is getting set up as the villain that closed Zambarano and threw vulnerable patients out of their home.”

“Now that we know what is happening due to the former administration’s planning and directives, we are asking the governor to intervene and order all transfers to stop until a certified medical gas expert has examined the system and states there is a need to uproot these patients from their homes. We need to put a stop to this before it is too late,” the legislators said.

The legislators want to emphasize that once the patient census drop below a certain size it will be impossible to save the hospital.

“Once it is gone you can never rebuild it, and that is what the BHDDH administration is counting on,” they said.

According to reports, fire marshals did not order the oxygen system or hospital to be shut down or the patients transferred. The repairs can be made by simply moving the patients to an empty wing at Zambarano.

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