By PBN Staff
By PBN Staff
(Updated, 1:25 p.m., Sept. 25)
PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Health Services Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the change of control application by Prime Healthcare Services in its efforts to buy Landmark Medical Center. Subsequently, R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Michael Fine approved that part of the regulatory process through which the California-based health care provider is bidding to take over Woonsocket’s Landmark.
The decision came within a week of approval of the change of control application by a subcommittee of the health services council and represents nearly one-half of the approval process for the sale of the financially troubled health care provider. Landmark has been under the management of court-appointed Special Master Jonathan N. Savage for the past five years. The application by Ontario, Calif.-based Prime, a for-profit hospital network, is the latest in a series of overtures and bids for the nonprofit health care center, which includes Landmark as well as the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island.
“Community support for this acquisition has been overwhelming, and we appreciate garnering the support of the council,” said Rick Charest, president of Landmark and the Rehabilitation Hospital. “This is welcomed news not only for the northern Rhode Island health care consumer, but for our 1,100 employees as well.”
Landmark has been operating under a financial cloud since going into receivership in June 2008, but Charest said that will change. “Prime Healthcare’s management expertise will allow Landmark to move forward with higher-quality outcomes while operating more efficiently,” he said, noting that under an existing advisory agreement, the for-profit chain already has improved Landmark’s financial position.
The approval of the change of effective control application leaves only the hospital conversion application to be accepted in order for Prime to take ownership. The hospital conversion application is in the middle of a 120-day review period by the DOH and the R.I. Attorney General’s office, which ends Oct. 28. Landmark spokesman Bill Fischer would not speculate on the prospect for the final approvals, saying “we respect the process, and we’ll let it unfold on our regulators’ timetables.”
The DOH and the Attorney General’s office will hold a public hearing Sept. 30 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Woonsocket High School as part of their review process.