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4/1/2021 Zambarano orders patients moved to Cranston or put on ‘hospice’

Sen. de la Cruz and Rep. Place say enough is enough; McKee must take action

STATE HOUSE, Providence – In a new and horrifying twist in the “shadow closure” of the Zambarano Unit of Eleanor Slater Hospital, hospital administrators have directed physicians to inform patients and families who require oxygen therapy that in order to remain at Zambarano they must change the focus of care to comfort (hospice) care or be transferred to the Cranston campus.

“This is nothing short of appalling,” said Senate Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz, (R-Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield). “Zambarano is going from hospital to hospice.  What these doctors are being ordered to do is immoral and unethical. And it’s all in the name of cutting costs.”

Representative David J. Place, (R-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester) said he was in disbelief after learning that a patient’s family was told they needed to agree that the patient, who receives oxygen, be put on “comfort measure code status” to remain at Zambarano.  If they did not agree, the patient would be transferred to Cranston against their will.

“The patient agreement that families sign when a person is admitted specifically states that internal transfers between Zam and Cranston are at the discretion of the clinical treatment team. Not at the discretion of administrators trying to cut costs,” Place said.

The legislators have repeatedly asked Governor McKee to step in and put a stop to immoral and unethical measures like these.  This latest news, they said, represents the point of no return.

“The state is now telling these patients – who have nowhere else to go for treatment – that they need to leave their home or die.  We’ll repeat: they must leave the only home they know, or agree to die,” de la Cruz said.

“We have been asking and asking, and the time has come for the governor to put a stop to this. Enough is enough.  That there is not enough money to provide treatment is not an excuse to play God in order to balance the books,” Place said.

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 closure plan was set into motion more than a year ago by Governor Raimondo’s department heads and the legislators have been working with hospital staff, patients, and their families to expose these actions so Governor McKee can 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.

A physician who was instructed on Wednesday night to present the ultimatum of comfort/hospice care or be transferred to the Cranston unit resigned on Wednesday night rather than comply.

“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.”

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.

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