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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Everybody wants the Westerly Hospital deal done

I just hope it makes Westerly Hospital a better place

By Will Collette
On March 27, the RI Health Department and the Attorney General held two sparsely attended meetings in Westerly to discuss the pending buy-out of Westerly Hospital by Lawrence and Memorial Hospital of Stonington.

L&M is offering $69 million to save the trouble hospital from almost certain closure.

According to the Westerly Sun, there were no dissenting views.

Westerly Hospital Medical Director Robert Harrison said that staff have been so concerned about the future of their jobs, some have already decided to leave for other work.

L&M has committed to maintain clinical services for at least two years, acute services for five years and to make $30 million in capital improvements. It will also put $6.5 million into a “plan of profitability.”

The hospital currently employs 700 workers with a payroll of more than $35 million and an economic ripple effect of $132 million on the local economy.

With all that at stake, it’s pretty easy to understand why everyone wants this deal to happen.

While all that is true, I remain worried that L&M’s takeover will not make Westerly Hospital a better place and have detailed those concerns here in Progressive Charlestown. L&M’s Medicare and public ratings for quality of service are of lesser quality than Westerly’s and far worse than South County Hospital.

I hope the new managers will treat Westerly Hospital workers fairly
There’s also the recent labor trouble at L&M where its unions have filed unfair labor practice charges against L&M for either laying off or cutting the hours of 44 L&M workers.

The unions have argued that L&M said it didn’t have the money to keep those workers employed, but is telling the RI Health Department that it has $200 million available not only to buy Westerly Hospital but to also engage in an aggressive spending spree.

As the table below shows, L&M doesn’t scrimp when it comes to executive salaries.

If you go by the table, it would appear that patient care and quality of service run in inverse proportion to executive pay.



CEO salary package

Patient satisfaction rank among NE hospitals

Lawrence & Memorial

Bruce Cummings


#156 out of 176

Westerly Hospital

Charles Kinney*



South County Hospital

Louis Giancola



  • * Kinney left Westerly Hospital when its finances collapsed and it went into receivership
  • SOURCES: Executive compensation listed on IRS-990 reports filed for FY2011. Statistics on patient satisfaction are derived from Medicare’s Hospital Compare database. Click on the hospital names in the left column of the table to review their most recent, complete IRS-990 reports.

On March 28, the RI Health Department’s Health Service Council Project Review Subcommittee approved the L&M buy-out deal on a 6-0 vote with one recusal and one abstention. The vote by the full Council is expected to take place on April 9. If Health Department Director Michael Fine and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, then the deal should go through.