CharterCare, the local arm of a California-based for-profit hospital company, announced Wednesday it would like to purchase the now-closed Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket. Memorial shut its doors in 2017, after years of losing money.
Standing with mayors and politicians from Blackstone Valley in Pawtucket City Hall, CharterCare CEO John Holiver said the company was ready to buy the vacant property and spend $10 million to fix it up. The plan is to reopen the facility, starting with the emergency room.
“This initiative reflects CharterCare’s commitment to restore convenient access to emergency services for residents of Blackstone Valley, and in turn, to reduce extreme pressures on other metro area emergency departments,” said Holiver.
Holiver described the proposal as in the earliest stages, with no deal yet reached with Memorial’s owner, Care New England.
“Currently we are in early talks with Care New England about this endeavor,” said Holiver. “However we’re very confident moving forward because it’s the right thing for the community, that Care New England would be excited about this.”
The announcement was immediately met with sharp criticism from both Care New England and the United Nurses and Allied Professional’s Union (UNAP), which represented some employees at Memorial.
In a statement, Care New England called the announcement a “surprise,” saying CharterCare had not discussed the plan and had yet to put forth a formal proposal. The statement further called any plan to reopen the Memorial facility “unfeasible.”
Before any part of Memorial reopens, the purchase would need to be approved by the state, and the facility would need to be relicensed for healthcare. CharterCare, which is owned by the for-profit California-based Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc., also said the plan is contingent on negotiating fair reimbursement rates from the state in a written statement.
UNAP’s statement called CharterCare’s plan “farcical” and “short on details.”
“So they’re basically trying to extort higher reimbursement rates at two hospitals they already own, Roger Williams and Fatima, as a pre-condition to going forward with a deal to reopen a hospital that they can’t reopen because the state already pulled the license,” said Chris Callaci, an attorney for UNAP.
Callaci said there is little chance the state will agree to the reopening of Memorial, and he expressed doubt that CharterCare could make the facility financially stable.
“What, these guys miraculously have the answers now?” asked Calluci. “They’re going to show up after the people in the community have suffered that closure, and now miraculously they have a formula to reopen it?”