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Disabled veteran denied MRI at ‘too busy’ Rhode Island Hospital

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence woman says her disabled husband was denied critical testing at Rhode Island Hospital despite a doctor’s recommendation when she was told the hospital was “too busy.”

Darlene Correia told Target 12 that her husband Joe, a retired Marine, is an amputee and diabetic. And recently, he was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus, which causes severe fatigue.

“He was getting in-home care,” Correia said. “But then it got too much for me to take care of him.”

She said her husband moved into Evergreen Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in East Providence last spring. On Aug. 25, doctors at the facility became concerned about Joe’s health and he ended up at Rhode Island Hospital, where she said he waited nearly five hours before being seen.

“And I’m like, ‘Well, what do you mean he’s still in the waiting area? He was taken by ambulance from Evergreen,'” Correia recalled.

Joe Correia

Joe was discharged after two days, but ended up back at Rhode Island Hospital three weeks later, with doctors at the rehabilitation facility concerned he had suffered a stroke.

Doctors sent Joe to the hospital’s emergency department to receive an MRI. Correia said her husband arrived at 3 p.m., but he was sent back to Evergreen 12 hours later, having never received the test.

“They were saying they couldn’t do the MRI because they were too busy to do it,” Correia added.

As 12 News reported in our latest 12 on 12 Digital Original, Correia’s experience isn’t unusual.

Recent data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed Rhode Island’s hospital system has one of the worst staffing shortages in the entire country. Of the 12 hospitals in the state that provided data, six reported a critical staffing shortage.

In neighboring Massachusetts, of the 82 hospitals responding, only eight reported critical staffing shortages.

Kathleen Hart, a spokesperson for Rhode Island Hospital owner Lifespan, provided this statement: “We are facing shortages of certain clinical staff, such as nurses. These shortages have led to backups in the Emergency Department, particularly at our busiest times of patient arrival.”

Correia said when she saw the Target 12 report on hospital staffing shortages Monday, her husband’s experience made more sense.

“I think people have to realize how serious the whole health issue is and staffing issue,” she added.

Tolly Taylor ( is a Target 12 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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