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‘We need to do right by the patients’: McKee weighs in on safety conditions at Zambarano hospital

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BURRILLVILLE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island state leaders say they are hiring outside help after a two-month inspection of the Zambarano unit of Eleanor Slater Hospital unearthed more than 100 safety code violations.

The four-story building, originally built in 1936, spans roughly 142,000 square feet and is located on the edge of Wallum Lake in Burrillville, and a Fire Marshal’s report finds it’s showing its age.

An inspector found 112 life and safety code violations, eight areas not covered by a sprinkler system, including the kitchen, and a 30-inch-deep pit that “lacks guards” to prevent a person from “falling during normal use of the building.”

“Well, you can’t go through a facility like that without having a strong sense that we need to do right by the patients,” Gov. Dan McKee said.

McKee made an unannounced visit of the facility last week and his administration says it is conducting a top to bottom review of the Eleanor Slater System.

Despite the report, McKee said he didn’t see anything that he considered egregious.

“I think that the care is strong, but I think the need is very very high and when you start talking about changing the system you need to make care you take that in as a high priority,” McKee said.

The State Eleanor Slater System has been under scrutiny in recent months for billing practices and questions over patient discharges. This week the state agency that oversees Eleanor Slater announced they were hiring an independent “third party” to review the books of the problem-plagues system.

A spokesperson for the State Fire Marshal’s Office says some violations found in the inspection have already been addressed and there is no imminent threat to patient or staff safety.

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