Care New England formalizes partnership with hospital

Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island on Tuesday formalized its partnership with Care New England.

It is supposed to mean better service for patients, and if nothing else, it means a hospital will remain in Pawtucket.

Times for all smaller hospitals are tough, and Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket was happy that Care New England wanted to include it in its network.

It's a natural trend resulting from health care reform, said Robert Hackey, a professor at Providence College.

"After health care reform in Massachusetts, we saw about 30 percent of the state's hospitals either acquire another hospital, merge or start to make a strategic partnership with another institution," Hackey said.

Memorial Hospital is a teaching hospital, and traditionally trains about 20 primary care physicians a year. Being part of a larger group can mean more chances for those doctors to stay in Rhode Island.

"It's estimated that within five or six years there will be a shortage of 120,000 doctors throughout the United States, and about half of those will be primary care doctors. The ability to keep more of those primary care doctors here in Rhode Island is a huge plus of the merger between Care New England and Memorial," said Dr. Michael Dacey of Care New England.

Keefe said he expects the merger will not result in any job cuts and that eventually, Care New England may offer more services at Memorial Hospital.