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R.I. attorney general launches investigation into Eleanor Slater Hospital

The AG’s Medicaid fraud control and patient abuse units are involved in the investigation

Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston, R.I, on Feb. 21, 2021
Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston, R.I, on Feb. 21, 2021DAVID DEGNER/NYT

PROVIDENCE — The state attorney general has launched an investigation into the operations of Eleanor Slater Hospital, the state-run institution that has come under public scrutiny in recent weeks.

Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office “has been obtaining information from a variety of sources’' about past and present practices at Eleanor Slater, Kristy dosReis, a spokeswoman for Neronha’s office, said Monday.

The AG’s Medicaid fraud control and patient abuse units are involved in the investigation. The office also serves as the state’s health care advocate. The investigation has been taking place for several weeks, dosReis said. WPRI first reported the news of the AG’s involvement in the situation.


Eleanor Slater has facilities in Burrillville, called the Zambarano unit or sometimes Zambarano Hospital, and units in Cranston. Across the system, patients at Eleanor Slater have a range of complex medical and psychiatric conditions.

The hospital system has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks because of what critics, including local politicians, call a “shadow” closure of the facility in Burrillville. The state denies any such closure is taking place. The state says patients need to be cared for in the least-restrictive setting possible — which is often not a hospital. Many have lived at Eleanor Slater for decades.

The state is proposing to build a new skilled nursing facility at the site in Burrillville to replace the hospital there, while also closing aging buildings on the Cranston campus.

Advocates for patients there are concerned about the ongoing efforts to discharge patients from Eleanor Slater, although the state has said the discharges are only happening if a patient and their families are willing to go.

The director of the agency that runs Eleanor Slater, the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, resigned last week, citing family health problems.

“This office remains concerned about the ongoing situation at Eleanor Slater and Zambarano Hospitals, particularly as it relates to patient care,” dosReis said.


Brian Amaral can be reached at brian.amaral@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.