By JOHN HOWELL
“Since the Lifespan merger ended, I sort of had in the back of my mind what we needed to do,” Dr. James Fanale, president and COO of Care New England, said yesterday in …
By JOHN HOWELL
“Since the Lifespan merger ended, I sort of had in the back of my mind what we needed to do,” Dr. James Fanale, president and COO of Care New England, said yesterday in the wake of the announcement that the CNE board unanimously voted to pursue a strategy of operating the health system independently, with enhanced support from various clinical and operating partners to improve liquidity and operational performance.
The announcement was applauded by House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, who played an integral role with Senate President Domenic Ruggerio in making it happen.
Shekarchi said the agreement ensures “Kent (Hospital) will survive as a non-profit community run hospital.” He said the arrangement is aimed at giving the state’s second largest hospital a firm financial footing for at least the next six years.
Under the plan, the state has increased Medicaid reimbursements by five percent and provided CNE with $20 million in ARPA federal funding that, as Fanale explained, “will go to the bottom line.” Unlike some other hospitals, Kent maintained operations of all its units throughout the pandemic so as to meet community needs. That decision ended up losing the hospital as much as $3 million a month largely because of the need to fill staff vacancies with agency or so called traveling nurses.
Fanale said yesterday that Kent has been able to trim its dependency on agency nurses from a high point of 60 to 30. Eliminating the need for traveling nurses would go a long way to putting Kent on a stable operating basis.
“We would rather have 35 more union folks,” Fanale said. Fanale has the nod of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals.
“We strongly support the announcement. A community based non-profit free standing Kent Hospital is the best outcome possible,” Jack Callaci, director of collective bargaining and organizing for United Nurses and Allied Professionals, wrote in response to questions. Callaci said Shekarchi “played an important role and he deserves a lot of credit for this announcement.”
According to the release, Care New England will work on arrangements with Brown University, its health plans, Lifespan and other local hospitals and health systems, and clinical partners. Fanale does not believe the agreements will require any regulatory approvals from either the Department of Health or the Attorney General. Specifics of what roles the partners would play were not detailed in the release.
“This plan,” Charles Reppucci, Care New England’s Board of Directors Chairman, and Fanale said in a joint statement, “coupled with the financial support included in the recently-enacted state budget, will help ensure that Care New England will maintain a stable operating platform and continue to fulfill its mission to care for its community of patients and support our staff.”
The future of Kent and the role of legislators was the focus of a letter from Trish Criner, RN, president of United Nurses and Allied Professionals Local 5008 published in the May 3 edition of the Warwick Beacon.
Criner wrote that the “vultures were circling from the for profit world” to pull apart CNE and said that there was nothing but “deafening silence” from legislative leaders to the dire situation.
Shekarchi referenced the letter Wednesday, saying that the leadership was following the situation and that this is the outcome.
“I have always recognized the value of Kent Hospital to my home city of Warwick, and it is near and dear to my heart. I worked hard throughout this year’s budget process to make certain that Kent will have the resources necessary to continue providing quality health care and to protect the jobs of the dedicated professional staff. The state funding will help Kent and Care New England as it works to build a stronger health care delivery system,” Shekarchi said in a statement released yesterday afternoon.
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