Care New England Closing Another Facility

Monday, March 05, 2018


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CNE's Women & Infants closing Woonsocket

On the heels of closing Memorial Hospital in December -- laying off 800 plus employees, Care New England’s Women & Infants is now closing its Woonsocket office.

“We are turning into a medical colony. On the line is local control and deciding which services will be provided and at what cost. When you lose local control, you lose local jobs,” said former Rhode Island Director of Health Dr. Michael Fine. "The [state] legislature has given up on meaningful health policy planning."

The office is one of three regional locations and which was designed “to better serve women living in the northern Rhode Island area," with "physicians and midwives, affiliated with Women & Infants Hospital, [having] elected to rent space within the Women & Infants Woonsocket Medical Office.”

At this time, South County and East Greenwich offices are not being impacted.

Latest in Hospital Shakeups 

The move is another retreat by Care New England (CNE), who is now in negotiations with both Partners HealthCare in Boston and rival Lifespan. Women & Infants still has offices in Pawtucket.

Fine, who served as Director of Health under Governor Lincoln Chafee, says Rhode Island is now suffering the carnage of a destabilized healthcare system due to lack of healthcare policy and planning by state officials.

“62-65% of hospitals’ revenue is all public money, but they are governed by private boards who are accountable to no one. All the time they are trying to do more stuff (like launch new programs) which just drives up costs," Fine told GoLocal. “We are not looking at any of the programs or the costs."

Partners HealthCare, who is poised to acquire CNE -- one of the largest private employers in Rhode Island -- announced last week that it entered into merger conversations with Lifespan as well — Rhode Island’s largest private employer.

Now, the future of healthcare in Rhode Island is unknown.

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Dr. Michael Fine, former RI Health Director

Care New England’s Northern RI Retreat

According to a CNE spokesperson, Women and Infants will look at other options in the region.

“With the expiration of the lease at Women & Infants’ Medical Office Building in Woonsocket on July 1, 2018, we are reviewing other opportunities in the community. We will continue to update the community,” said Amy Blustein, Director of Marketing at Women & Infants Hospital.

“Care New England remains committed to providing excellent care to the Blackstone Valley community. In Pawtucket, we offer a range of services through Care New England Medical Group Primary Care and Specialty Services, as well as Express Health Care for those who need ready access to health care but do not require hospital-level care," said Blustein.

There are two Pawtucket locations Brewster and Prospect Streets and they provide a range of services from family health to pediatrics.

There is no indication if the Woonsocket closure will lead to more layoffs.

In April of 2017, CNE announced major layoffs -- with Women & Infants hit the hardest.

“At Women & Infants and across Care New England, we have undertaken extensive measures to improve our financial stability while trying to minimize the impact on labor. Unfortunately, it has not been enough, as we have continued to experience reduced volumes due to changing demographics, reduced inpatient neonatal care, a declining birth rate, and a decrease in reimbursements. We must adapt to significant changes in health care delivery and payment, such as decreased population and births, and advances that change the way we provide care,” said Mark R. Marcantano, president and chief operating officer at Women & Infants Hospital at the time.

On December 31, 2017, Memorial was shuttered, ending the jobs for 800 employees — about 600 full-time equivalents.

CNE has refused to give exact numbers of the number of staff reductions over the past 12 months. The company has lost more than $120 million during the past 30 months. And, the leadership group has missed its own financial marks repeatedly.


Related Slideshow: 7 Implications and Unintended Consequences of a Care New England and Partners Merger

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Providence does not usually do well in mergers

Remember Providence Gas, Fleet Bank, and Narragansett Electric?

Big employers, deep community involvement, and significant charitable donors — all were consumed and in each case, the number of employees left in Rhode Island by the succeeding company is a fraction of the once independent venture.

To the victor goes the spoils.

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As if the Boston economy isn't good enough, and the Providence economy couldn't be more stagnant

The cityscape of Boston is littered with cranes. Boston Business Journal maps the construction projects utilizing cranes in Boston (see image) and the number of projects is staggering. 

In Providence, there few construction projects and not a crane to be seen. The last thing Providence needs is for another one of its largest employers to be merged into a Boston mega-organization. The likelihood is that jobs will be lost or consolidated to Boston - basic functions like purchasing, accounting, etc. will be lost. 

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Harvard beats Brown in Ivy League match-up

Harvard Medical School is ranked as the #1 research-based institution in America by U.S. News and World Report.

Partners Healthcare’s academic partner is Harvard.

In contrast, Care New England’s academic affiliation is with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Brown’s best ranking is 21st for primary care - and is ranked for research way back at #31.

One of the biggest losers in the merger could be Brown's medical school.

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Care New England is RI’s 2nd largest employer, so what will It be in 2 Years?

According to the RI Department of Labor and Training, Care New England is Rhode Island’s second largest employer.

Lifespan is the largest: 12,050

Care New England: 8,500

CVS: 7,800

Cities like "Meds and Eds" (the medical and educational business segments), but Providence and all of Rhode Island is likely to lose high paid, highly educated jobs as a result of this deal.

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Care New England Continues to Struggle

Despite hopes that closing Memorial Hospital would solve the financially beleaguered Care New England's economic woes, new financial documents unveil that CNE continues to struggle.

Additionally, the pursuer - Partners HealthCare - is also making cuts. The Boston Globe unveiled the Partners is cutting about 100 of the company’s tech workers that their jobs were being outsourced to India to cut costs.

“Many of the employees have worked for Partners for several years, or even decades, and are struggling with the company’s decision. Almost all are coders — people who scour patients’ medical records to pinpoint billable services — and earn upward of $40 an hour. Coders in India earn a fraction of that amount, making overseas coding an attractive way for hospitals to cut costs,” wrote the Boston Globe.

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Can the unions battle?

Within hours of GoLocal breaking the news of the merger, the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) President Linda McDonald, RN, released the following statement today:

"This proposed merger has the ability to impact thousands of jobs and the quality of care in Rhode Island and should be thoroughly scrutinized. Like most Rhode Islanders, we only recently learned of this proposal but expect Care New England and Partners HealthCare to be transparent in their process and begin a conversation with our union about the effect any deal would have on our members and our patients.  

Memorial Hospital provides critical care to scores of Blackstone Valley residents every year and preserving its status as a fully-functioning community hospital will be among our top priorities as this process continues to unfold. 
The onus is now on Care New England, Partners HealthCare and Prime Healthcare Services to make the details of this proposal public and to do it quickly so that workers, patients and state regulators may begin asking the appropriate questions."

The nurses represents nearly 1,400 registered nurses, CNAs, ER techs, surgical techs, orderlies, endo techs, environmental employees and ancillary staff at Kent and Memorial hospitals.  But, will they have any impact on the decisions?

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Speaking of Lifespan - will they be forced to merge with a Boston partner?

Lifespan is having its financial challenges too. While Care New England lost $53 million last year, Lifespan's losses were $40 million. The Lifespan losses were smaller proportionately to the healthcare group's overall budget and it does not have the cash crunch that Care New England was battling.

In February, Lifespan announced it had has entered into another Boston Hospital agreement. This agreement with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a long term agreement with the goal of advancing cancer treatment and research. Lifespan previously entered into an agreement with New England Medical Center and that deal led to years of protracted litigation to unwind. Lifespan also ran into a legal battle with Tufts Medical Center.

Will Partners' potential arrival in the market force Lifespan to affiliate?


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