Top R.I. state official will take over, review hospital agency


Gov. Dan McKee has appointed a top administration official to take charge of the state agency that operates a hospital that has come under scrutiny from disability advocates and public officials.

Health and Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones has been asked to take interim leadership of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, The Providence Journal reported Friday.

Womazetta is being asked to conduct a review of the department, which oversees Eleanor Slater Hospital. The hospital has locations in Cranston and Burrillville and treats residents with long-term medical and psychiatric needs. It has come under fire over a downsizing plan that critics say has led to the discharge of patients with few or no care alternatives.

“The governor has charged Secretary Jones with conducting a thorough review of the Department and to make recommendations to him on issues including, but not limited to, departmental policy, operations, staffing and quality standards for patient care,” McKee spokesman Matt Sheaff said in a statement.

Womazetta will replace Kathryn Power, who resigned from the department’s top post this week citing family health issues.

The hospital has faced a string of resignations among physicians, including some who said they were unethically pressured to discharge patients in order to save money. A nurse’s union this week gave a vote of no confidence in the hospital’s leadership.

Jones will continue to lead the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services in addition to her new duties, Sheaff said.


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