Health department records and interviews with patients’ families indicate that Eleanor Slater Hospital, a public psychiatric hospital in Cranston, RI, attempted to refer some ventilator patients to another facility earlier this year without them being sent. inform or their family. The Boston Globe reported on June 2.
In April, a complaint prompted the state’s health department to investigate Eleanor Slater, who found the hospital had failed to follow its discharge policy when it sent a patient’s documents to an outside facility without informing the patient. Documents obtained by the World show that the hospital has stepped up its discharge policy in response and agreed to report to regulators for six months.
This is the only problem with the hospital discharge policy since 2019, a spokesperson for the agency who runs Eleanor Slater told the outlet, adding that its patient records policy is now stricter than HIPAA.
“ESH has now agreed to follow a stricter policy than HIPAA in obtaining patient or family consent before sharing such information in this situation,” the spokesperson told World.
While the Department of Health’s investigation focused on the records of a single patient, a nurse and family members of the patient say this has happened to more than one person.
Melissa Ferarrio, registered nurse at Eleanor Slater and president of a local union that represents nurses at the hospital, said five patient charts were sent to an outside rehabilitation center without notifying families first. Outcry from families and advocates ultimately stopped the rejections, Ms Ferarrio told the World.
Critics of the hospital administration say it was part of an effort to reduce the number of patients, which would justify a shutdown.
The Department of Behavioral Health Care, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, which runs the hospital, has long denied accusations of attempted “ghost shutdowns,” the World reports.
Editor’s Note: Becker has contacted Eleanor Slater Hospital and will update the report as more information becomes available.