PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – A respiratory infections triage unit will soon be coming to the site of the former Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket. A tent is being set up in the parking lot on Pond Street and will be operational on Wednesday, according to a city spokesperson.
City leaders made the announcement Tuesday, saying the site will provide medical assessment services related to Coronavirus in multiple languages.
The center will not be providing tests for COVID-19 as it is a medical assessment service.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been rapidly spreading across the country, state, and our communities. Pawtucket and the Blackstone Valley need to have professional services for coronavirus here to assist our residents,” said Mayor Donald Grebien in a statement. “The Cities thank Care NewEngland, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and everyone who helped make it possible to provide our residents with the services that they need and deserve.”
“We are pleased to see Care New England step up for our diverse communities during this crisis,” said Mayor James Diossa. “Providing our residents access to necessary services to protect our community is imperative to minimize the risk of the spread of the coronavirus. We are confident that our residents will use this facility.”
Grebien and Diossa wrote a letter last month to the Care New England, Memorial’s parent company, asking them to re-open the shuttered hospital to assist patients in the Blackstone Valley during the coronavirus crisis.
Target 12 reported in March that state emergency officials toured the hospital, but both hospital and state officials downplayed the possibility of using it as a triage site.
Dr. James Fanale, Care New England’s CEO, had previously raised questions about the ability to ready the building, which has sat mostly vacant since the hospital closed in 2018. When asked about reopening Memorial, state leaders have previously said they are considering all available properties as they deal with the possibility of a surge in cases and hospitalizations. The respiratory infections triage unit is being housed in a temporary tent in the parking lot, not in the former hospital building itself.
“The ability to quickly assess patients is ideal for managing through this unprecedented pandemic,” Fanale wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “Care New England is happy to be able to provide this location, ready to assess patients for their potentially COVID-19- related symptoms, as we work together to contain the spread of this worldwide concern.”
Care New England’s Respiratory Infections Triage Unit (RITU) will be staffed by CNE medical professionals Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Symptomatic patients should call their primary care provider or call 401-CareNOW (401-227-3669) to make an appointment.
A report released earlier this year found the hospital’s absence has left some communities with limited access to emergency services.
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