Connelly Law's March Community Partners Update

We continue to monitor and report on the continuing attempts to close Zambarano Hospital We'll start this month's community partner's blog with a press release scheduled to be issued in April by Kathleen Heren, Rhode Island's long-term care ombudsman. In it, she discusses how the State of Rhode Island has arrived at this current crisis with Zambarano Hospital and rightfully calls this a "tragic situation".


A Tragic Situation

by Kathleen Heren, RI Long-term Care Ombudsman

I wanted to write this month on Eleanor Slater Hospital which has been in the news frequently during the last few weeks. For those of you who are my age, I know you heard many names that were used to describe the hospital. The formal name was Howard Institution and Zambarano Hospital. We also were told that Howard was where people went who were crazy, and Zambarano was there to treat TB patients. I can even recall as a student nurse learning how to make a “Klondike Bed.” The bed was designed for TB residents who spent many hours out in the cold winter air. It was believed that the cold air would kill the TB virus. Howard was not a great place to be; there were cement tubs in the basement where patients were placed in tubs of ice. Canvas tops were placed over the top of the tub leaving the patient’s head exposed but certainly kept them from getting out. The walls had huge round chains up and down all walls to chain the patients. As horrible as this sounds, there were worse things done which I am not going to write on.

Kathleen Heren

How did people end up at Howard? Not all of the people were mentally ill. Some were an unwed mother, a diabetic, an epileptic, or just wayward. Over the years, the hospital has evolved into an outstanding rehabilitative center. The hospital has done remarkable work with head injuries, burns, large bedsores, and any neurological conditions that could not be handled in a nursing home. It has also been a place of last resort for residents who have had anywhere from 3-6 failed nursing home placements. I can attest to referring nursing home residents to the hospital that were in a very sad condition. When I returned to visit them, I was not able to recognize them. Being an advocate for the last 22 years I have witnessed many good things and many bad things. There have been many administrative teams that were functioning in positions they were poorly qualified for. I can honestly say the staff who were caring for these most challenging residents never wavered in their care. The staff are devoted and go out of their way to care for their residents.

Now the hospital faces a new challenge. The administration has publicly stated that most residents do not meet the level of care and should go to a nursing home or home to their families. Are you kidding me? Nursing homes cannot deliver the care the hospital can, nor do they have the knowledge to be able to manage behavioral issues. To suggest families can now become caregivers who may themselves be in their late 60’s, is also absurd.

In closing, I want to emphasize the important role that this hospital plays in the lives of the most vulnerable citizens, both physically and mentally. To send these residents out of the environment they thrived in will result in heartache for the residents and their families. We should also praise the physicians who would not waiver in being forced into signing medical referral information they know to be false. The answer to poor management is not to lay the consequences on the residents, workers, physicians, or their families. The old saying “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”, and render to the residents what they so deserve. If any family members would like to reach out to me for assistance, I am always available. Your confidentiality will be protected. I can be reached at 401-785-3340, or 1-888-351-3391, or email


Support Zambarano


The following is a press release from the Rhode Island Statehouse regarding the ongoing Zambarano issue.

PRESS RELEASE on Zambarano

STATE HOUSE, Providence – As they continue to fight to keep the Zambarano Unit of Eleanor Slater Hospital open, Senate Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz, (R-Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield) and Representative David J. Place, (R-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester) have received explosive confirmation of the rumors the state intends to close the skilled care facility and to discharge patients unable to receive care anywhere else.

Senator de la Cruz

According to recently-retired physician administrator/medical director, Normand L. Decelles, Jr., M.D., hospital administrators began planning the closure last year under the guise the services were not needed, when in fact administrative failure to modernize health records led to federal funding being cut off. They began pressuring physicians to discharge patients even though doctors could find no facilities to accept them.

“Because they never invested in a computerized records system, they lost federal funding. Normally, the federal government provides 80 percent of the hospital’s funding…now they have lost $65million a year,” Dr. Decelles told the legislators.

“This is a shocking and appalling failure to follow basic instructions to modernize health records. When they failed to meet federal standards, hospital administrators began an organized campaign to dump these patients out of their home, where they receive care they cannot get anywhere else,” de la Cruz said. “I am absolutely flabbergasted this now resulted in patient abuse. We need to put a stop to this to keep these patients where they are.”

Representative Place

The legislators are calling for both the House and Senate oversight committees to convene hearings on these troubling accusations. They are further calling on the BHDDH administration to freeze all discharges. Additionally, they want administrators to cease efforts to make “qualifying for care” at Zambarano impossible for everyone – including current residents.

“All this time BHDDH claimed the inability to bill was based on ‘patient census issues.’ Dr. Decelles’s comments about failure of the agency to create medical records systems calls into question the BHDDH administration’s integrity,” Representative Place said.

Dr. Decelles penned a detailed, open letter describing the “numerous falsehoods … which make it necessary to write,” the doctor said. You can view the letter HERE .“I wish to address allegations and judgments by some hospital administrators that Zambarano is not necessary, that current patients should never have been admitted, that those admitted were not properly vetted, and that patients must now leave because they fail newly-developed hospital ‘criteria for admission.’”

With funding gone, hospital administration “wanted 100% of patients discharged by June 2020.” With just 85 patients left, the doctor said the drop inpatient census at Zambarano is due to the lack of new admissions and deaths.

“It is not a reflection of the lack of need for our services in RI. Very appropriate candidates for admission are now frozen in Rhode Island’s acute hospital beds with no discharge options,” the doctor said. Further, staff is being reduced at the facility to the point where there will soon not be enough physicians on staff to care for the patients.

“My other concern is there is so much we don’t know because we aren’t being told – they’re letting staff go – they’ve laid off one doctor, more are retiring…they will be down to two physicians to manage the whole population,” Decelles said.

De la Cruz and Place said they are eager to work with the McKee administration to keep Zambarano patients where they belong and will continue communicating with the department and the governor to find solutions.

For more information, contact:

Katie Haughey Cardoza, Senate Minority Office

State House Room 20

Providence, RI 02903


March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

On the March 18th edition of Southcoast Seniors heard on radio station WPRV 790am in Providence, our guest was Debra Sharpe, Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island. Listen to the interview by clicking on the video below.


Rhode Island Hospital's Day of Giving

This information is from Rhode Island Hospital's website.

On Thursday, March 25, 2021, in partnership with NBC 10 WJAR, we will celebrate Rhode Island Hospital's excellence in care during the inaugural Day of Giving.

This daylong telethon on WJAR-TV will showcase the hospital’s commitment to patient-centered care and its responsiveness to the ongoing global pandemic while raising critical funds in support of its lifesaving mission. Your participation will show the community that you support Rhode Island Hospital and the health care heroes who are on the frontlines and have given so much.

Proceeds from the Day of Giving support Rhode Island Hospital’s Fund for Excellence, enabling program improvements that directly benefit our patients and their families. Your generosity will enhance our already exceptional patient experience and advance our leading-edge research and medical education.

To learn more, click on the photo below:


Information for Rhode Island's Senior Population

Check out this site for all matters senior in Rhode Island. Great news and information for seniors, caregivers, and professionals. Click on the logo below.


If you are interested in becoming a community partner with Connelly Law Offices, Ltd., contact Don Drake at

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