Rhode Island hospitals face cuts as parent company expands

200 staff likely to be re-employed elsewhere in Lifespan system, hospital spokeswoman says

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The announcement of Lifespan’s budget cuts follows the company’s purchase of $7.75 million worth of land in the Jewelry District.

Anticipating a budget deficit this fiscal year, the Lifespan health care system will eliminate 200 full- and part-time positions at Rhode Island Hospital and will close the Hasbro Children’s Hospital’s early intervention program, which targets children under three years of age with developmental challenges. 

The Sept. 29 announcement came shortly after Lifespan’s $7.75 million purchase of a Jewelry District land plot. In light of the company’s budget restrictions, the possibility that Lifespan might sell the land has rekindled dialogue about a potential baseball stadium in Providence.

Early intervention programs such as the one at HCH “provide support systems that allow children to form positive social relationships, acquire knowledge and skills and take appropriate action to meet their own needs,” wrote Joseph Wendelken, an acting public information officer for the Rhode Island Department of Health, in an email to The Herald. HCH’s program has experienced decreased revenues in recent years.

These programs are essential to building strong, inclusive communities in which children with developmental challenges can grow, Wendelken wrote. The state and the HCH team are working to find places in Rhode Island’s nine other early intervention programs for the 235 children currently enrolled in HCH’s program, he added.

Leading up to the personnel cuts, RIH purposely left vacant positions unfilled in recent months, so that fewer employees would ultimately lose their jobs, wrote Beth Bailey, a senior media relations officer for RIH, in an email to The Herald. It is very likely that the 200 staff members now without employment will be able to obtain other positions within the Lifespan healthcare system, Bailey added.

Lifespan’s Jewelry District land purchase was completed with the help of Richard Gudoian, Jr., a principal of JAG Investment Realty, according to a statement from Bailey. 

Arthur Salisbury, president of the Jewelry District Association, said RIH appears to have bought the plot with the intention of leaving it undeveloped, at least for the present time.

“They have absolutely no plans for building anything anytime soon,” Salisbury said.

Joseph Paolino, Jr. P’17, managing partner for Paolino Properties, proposed that Lifespan trade the land it purchased with the city in exchange for another Jewelry District plot currently reserved for a public park, adding that the Pawtucket Red Sox could then purchase the land that Lifespan exchanged with the city to construct a ballpark. The baseball team’s attempts over the past few months to purchase a plot of land were unsuccessful, The Herald previously reported. The exchange proposed by Paolino involves a different plot of land.

“The great poetry of a city is when you have theater, when you have sports, when you have art … that’s all part of making a city sing,” Paolino said in support of a stadium.

Salisbury said Paolino’s exchange would not be favorable for Lifespan, because the land it would receive in exchange for its current plot has a gas main and sewage overflow reserve underneath it, and these would have to be removed — at a cost of at least $8 million — if a building were to be constructed. This infrastructure would not need to be removed if a park was built on the land, as currently planned. Another issue with the stadium proposal, Salisbury said, is that problems with water runoff would need to be addressed.

Paolino said he has no idea if his suggestion is feasible given the many different factors at play in a possible land trade.

“Lifespan may not even want to do it,” he said. “I don’t know — I haven’t had any official conversations with anybody from Lifespan.”

One Comment

  1. theshapeofthings says:

    Health care is 99% business and 1% bandaid. Voodoo and snake oil have comparable success rates. Capitalistic healthcare is canibalism. The health of the healthcare industry has never been better.

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