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McKee taps Care New England, HARI to review embattled Slater hospital

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island has tapped Care New England and the Hospital Association of Rhode Island to conduct a two-month review of the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital, which has come under intense scrutiny in recent months.

Gov. Dan McKee announced the new partnership Tuesday, saying Care New England and the trade group would provide a “peer review of the clinical and operational programs” at Eleanor Slater. State officials said Rhode Island will not pay anything for the partnership.

“Our administration is committed to examining and addressing longstanding issues at Eleanor Slater Hospital to ensure patients receive the quality care they deserve,” McKee said in a statement. “The partnership with Hospital Association of Rhode Island and Care New England is an important step and we thank both organizations for their collaboration.”

Eleanor Slater provides psychiatric and medical care through its Zambarano unit in Burrillville and three more units in Cranston. The state-run hospital system has come under fire in recent months, facing both money and regulatory issues, along with an ongoing rift between administrators and union groups that’s created a toxic workplace.

Separately, Attorney General Peter Neronha has launched an investigation into the hospital, examining both patient care and financial issues.

The new partnership is part of a broader effort by Health and Human Services Womazetta Jones to conduct a review of the hospital system and the R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals.

“The patients in our care at Eleanor Slater Hospital deserve the very best treatment and, as part of my ongoing review … I want to ensure that each individual is receiving the appropriate supports,” Jones said in a statement, adding that she’s appreciative of the groups to lend their expertise.

Care New England, the state’s second largest hospital network that operates Women & Infants, Kent and Butler hospitals along with The Providence Center, specializes in behavioral and psychiatric care. The hospital association, also known as HARI, represents multiple hospital groups across the state — including Care New England.

In statements, both groups expressed support for the partnership, the state and Eleanor Slater.

The peer review is separate from another effort underway to examine billing practices at the hospital. The state earlier this month announced plans to hire a third-party group to review the eligibility of certain expenses after staff raised compliance concerns.

As Target 12 reported Monday, a new state assessment suggests Rhode Island is out of compliance with a federal rule requiring that psychiatric patients account for below half of everyone receiving care at the hospital.

It remains unclear how long Jones’ overall review will last, but McKee has said he wants to present a plan to the General Assembly before the current legislative session ends, which typically happens by July 1.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is an investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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