PROVIDENCE – State representatives voted against adding funding in fiscal year 2020 budget for two new wheelchair accessible vans for Burrillville’s Zambarano Hospital, rejecting an $89,000 amendment to Rhode Island’s spending plan by Rep. David Place this week.
Place lobbied for the buses, reportedly needed to transport disabled patients from facility, during budget deliberations on Monday, June 24.
“This facility is a long-term care facility that deals not only with developmentally disabled individuals, but also individuals that are paraplegic and quadriplegics, and they’re there because they have no other place to go,” said Place, who represents District 47 in Burrillville and Glocester.
Place noted that some of the cases at the hospital are so complex that there are no other facilities in the region for affordable treatment.
“It’s the only place they can go, and to a larger extent, the taxpayers of Rhode Island are their only source of support,” said Place “The buses they have now, to say they are inadequate would be an understatement.”
The representative told other members of the House that during the winter, workers don’t know if the buses are going to start, and that the heat doesn’t work sometimes.
“There’s less than 95 people up there, but we are their only form of support and if we’re going to talk about some of the least amongst us, these are definitely them,” said Place, noting that the cost for both buses would be $89,120.
But Rep. Charlene Lima of District 14 Cranston and Providence spoke against the expenditure, saying the state already gave them $91,000 this year.
“Zambarano hospital does a great job. They’re they only acute hospital dealing with medical and psychiatric needs. However, the hospital has six buses, they got two brand new ones in May to the tune of between $89,000 and $91,000. They have the money. It’s not necessary.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 9-62.
Zambarano spokesman Randall Edgar told NRI NOW that while the hospital did purchase one new van this year, the rest are from 2001 or older.
“We did need those vans,” Edgar said. “Ideally, we’d replace one every year.”
The hospital did receive some funding in the Rhode Island Capital Plan Fund upgrades to utility infrastructure, and protection for buildings, equipment, road, parking, open space, and utilities as part of an ongoing $20.8 million multi-year project.
The state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals is responsible for both administrative and patient care facilities at the Zambarano Hospital Campus, and community and residential facilities statewide.