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By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – State regulators at the R.I. Department of Health and the R.I. Attorney General’s office have set Jan. 11 as the final deadline to receive requested information from Steward Health Care in its bid to purchase Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket.
If Steward’s application is deemed to be complete, the regulators will then move onto the larger task: whether or not to approve the bid by the Boston-based, for-profit hospital system to purchase the non-profit acute care community hospital under the state’s Hospital Conversions Act.
United Nurses & Professionals, the union representing about 625 workers at Landmark and its other facility, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island in North Smithfield, has taken out a series of ads in the online version of The Providence Journal to push for a quick approval by regulators. The ads, addressed to Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, say: “You are our last hope to save hundreds of good jobs and a treasured community hospital.” The ad goes on to say that even though Steward has gone through a similar “rigorous regulatory approval process in Massachusetts with flying colors… Yet our state regulators can’t seem to get the job done in Rhode Island.”
Christopher Callaci, general counsel for UNAP’s Local 5067, told Providence Business News he was concerned that the state did not have “a Plan B” in case the application fails to meet with regulatory approval. “You have a buyer [in Steward] that is a known quantity, that’s ready, willing and able to run the place, and that has been through rigorous reviews in Massachusetts,” Callaci said. “There are 1,300 jobs on the line; we got to get this regulatory review done and approve this thing.”