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AG still ‘a long way’ from finishing Eleanor Slater Hospital probe

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha said Friday he’s not close to completing his investigation into the embattled Eleanor Slater Hospital, in part because his office is examining the circumstances of each patient there.

The state’s top prosecutor launched the investigation earlier this year, telling Target 12 in April he’s examining various issues tied to the state-run medical facility, which comprises Zambarano in Burrillville and three more units in Cranston.

The hospital system, with its roughly 222 patients, has dominated headlines for months due to a combination of money problems, workplace dysfunction and regulatory concerns.

On Friday, Neronha said he’s not rushing the investigation, and his office is still working to “really understand the scope of the issues out there.”

“There’s a lot that goes into the Eleanor Slater Hospital in terms of potential issues,” Neronha said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers.

“We’re still a long way I think from fully sorting that out,” he added.

Part of the inquiry includes looking at the background of each patient and “understanding the circumstances of however they were treated,” Neronha said.

In addition to its role in prosecutions, the attorney general’s office also serves as the state’s Health Care Advocate, giving Neronha broad authority over examining certain segments of the health care system.

“When you’re looking — as we are — at individual outcomes for patients, it takes time to understand per patient what happened, what the outcome is and what the outcome will be down the road,” Neronha explained.

It remains unclear whether the probe will result in any criminal charges, though Neronha didn’t rule out such a scenario Friday. However, he underscored that it could end with a civil matter or simply an advocacy report, similar to the outcome of his inquiry into two hospital systems’ “significant error in judgement” when distributing vaccines during the early days of the rollout.

“If we get to a place where advocacy is what’s necessary, we’ll land there, but it’s too early to tell exactly where that’s going,” he said about the Eleanor Slater investigation.

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

Tim White and Ted Nesi contributed to this report.

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

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