The Block Island Times

After sale, Westerly Hospital services expected not to change

By Stephanie Turaj | Mar 16, 2013

Within the next few months, a Connecticut-based company may purchase Westerly Hospital, but most services at the hospital that Block Island residents use will remain unchanged, according to a company spokesman.

“Clinical services will continue to exist,” said Mike O’Farrell, spokesman for Lawrence and Memorial Hospital (L+M), the company that has proposed to buy Westerly Hospital. Emergency room services and surgery will also remain, he said.

When Block Island residents go to the mainland for medical care, the two hospitals of choice are Westerly Hospital and South County Hospital, according to B.I. Medical Center Dr. Jan Miller.

“It’s patient choice,” she said, referring to which hospital a resident would choose. Sometimes patients would go off to a further hospital, such as in Providence or Boston, but most select the closer locations of South County or Westerly. Often, the selection is tied to transportation options, said Miller — for example, if a patient flies off to Westerly, they might go to Westerly Hospital because it’s closer.

Westerly Hospital has been in receivership, a form of state bankruptcy, since December 2011. In November 2012, L+M, which is based in New London, Conn., submitted its application to buy the hospital for $69 million. The application is currently under a 90-day review by the R.I. Department of Health and the R.I. Office of the Attorney General. That review will be completed in April.

The company has proposed that birthing services be cut — if approved this would go into effect June 1. This is the only service that may be discontinued, according to O’Farrell. “We’re hoping to continue it as the great hospital it is,” he said.

On Nov. 2, L+M submitted its application to purchase the hospital, said O’Farrell. On Jan. 29, the state regulators ruled the application “complete,” meaning it felt all necessary documentation has been submitted. The state regulators — R.I. Department of Health and the R.I. Office of the Attorney General — are now reviewing the application.

If the application is approved, O’Farrell expects the sale of the hospital would finalize in May.

“The sooner we can close [on the sale], the better for everyone — the people that work at Westerly Hospital, the people that use Westerly Hospital, and us,” said O’Farrell.

There are two informational public meetings scheduled on March 27 from 4-5:30 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at the Westerly Middle School. To view the notice go to:

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