It's time to honor the years of service hundreds of people gave to Memorial Hospital and the people of Pawtucket and Central Falls. More people than many of can count stayed up all night or were always ready to leave home to take care of someone who was sick. Memorial trained 500 family doctors, countless nurses, and generations of medical students, while caring for communities of working people and immigrants from all over the world that other hospitals and other health professionals just weren't interested in.
Memorial is just the first of a number of hospitals in Rhode Island that are going to close. We don't need hospitals as much as we used to. People smoke less, exercise more, and sometimes eat more sensibly, which means Rhode Islanders are healthier than we used to be. Much of what used to happen in a hospital isn't an illness anymore or can be managed at home or in the community. Maybe we should turn hospitals into substance use disorder treatment hospitals -- because that problem isn't going away, and we need treatment on demand for everyone who is dependent on drugs and alcohol.
Memorial stayed open 5 years too long. We didn't close it five years ago because we lack political courage. People were making money from keeping it open; no one wanted to admit that people with jobs might lose those jobs; no one wanted to be blamed for that hospitals' inevitable closure. A guy called a guy. Money changed hands. No one noticed that we wasted $50 to $100 million dollars of public money a year and got nothing in return.