CNE receiving more interest on acquisition of R.I. hospital system

WOMEN & INFANTS HOSPITAL is in danger of getting scooped up by an out-of-state, for-profit corporation as a result of the merger between its current owner, Care New England Health Systems, and Lifespan Corp. being denied by the Federal Trade Commission and Rhode Island's attorney general, according to Lynn Blais, president of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals. / COURTESY CARE NEW ENGLAND HEALTH SYSTEMS
CARE NEW ENGLAND HEALTH SYSTEM CEO and President Dr. James E. Fanale says his company is receiving more interest beyond the recent offer from StoneBridge Healthcare LLC to acquire the Rhode Island hospital company. Above, CNE's Women & Infants Hospital in Providence. /COURTESY CARE NEW ENGLAND HEALTH SYSTEMS

PROVIDENCE – Two weeks after Care New England Health System faced a rejection of its proposal to merge with Lifespan Corp., the Rhode Island hospital company is now receiving calls and interest from other organizations interested in a potential acquisition, according to its CEO.

Care New England CEO and President Dr. James E. Fanale said StoneBridge Healthcare LLC, which recently offered to purchase his company for $250 million plus a pledge of $300 million in capital investments, isn’t the only organization interested in an acquisition. However, Fanale declined to share how many companies are now interested in acquiring Care New England, and said he doesn’t yet have any response to the StoneBridge offer.

“Obviously, since the result of the regulatory process, only two weeks ago, we’re still taking a deep breath, and meeting with our staff, Fanale said. “We’ve received calls and levels of interest. But I’ll just leave it at that. I couldn’t give you a number. … The board will evaluate all options.”

Fanale said he couldn’t provide a timeline for how Care New England will move forward in its decision-making on potential acquisitions. Fanale also said it’s possible that Care New England remains an independent hospital system, despite the company’s previous reports of financial difficulties.

- Advertisement -

“We have a bunch of options to assess and a bunch of plans to address,” Fanale said. “We’ll get to them. I don’t think we’ll be able to answer any of these questions for a few months anyways. … We don’t have a specific timeline. … We’re going to evaluate all options in due course. Right now, this is 2 weeks old.”

CARE NEW ENGLAND HEALTH SYSTEM CEO and President Dr. James E. Fanale said his company is receiving more interest beyond the recent offer from StoneBridge Healthcare LLC to acquire the Rhode Island hospital company. / PBN FILE PHOTOS/ COURTESY STONEBRIDGE HEALTHCARE LLC AND CARE NEW ENGLAND HEALTH SYSTEM
CARE NEW ENGLAND HEALTH SYSTEM CEO and President Dr. James E. Fanale says staying independent remains an option for the system, despite it’s well-documented financial challenges. / PBN FILE PHOTO

Fanale said it’s possible that the nonprofit Mass General Brigham, formerly known as Partners Healthcare, could return to the table. The Boston-based Mass General Brigham previously tried to acquire Care New England, but it withdrew its offer in 2019 after former Gov. Gina M. Raimondo came out against it, preferring to see the Lifespan merger proposal move forward.

“They’ll be one of the options,” Fanale said. “We’ll explore all options on the table. They’re certainly interested. They’ll be one that we’ll consider as well.”

Fanale said he “really can’t comment” on the StoneBridge acquisition proposal because he has not “had a chance to review” it yet. But the StoneBridge offer mirrors the acquisition proposal that it presented to Care New England in late 2020. Fanale said Care New England didn’t consider the 2020 offer and “really coudln’t discuss it” at the time, when it was under an exclusivity agreement to merger with Lifespan.

Fanale said it is “clearly an option” for Lifespan to remain an independent company.

“It’s another option on the table, the standalone option,” Fanale said. “We can assess the likelihood of how that would work.”

Fanale said staff at Care New England, which operates Women & Infants Hospital, Butler Hospital, Kent Hospital, and many other health care facilities throughout the state, are taking the news surrounding the company in stride while also dealing with the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would say we have the best staff in the region,” Fanale said. “They’re very resilient. They’ve been through a lot. They’ve been through the closing of Memorial Hospital. They’ve hung on through all these merger discussions. They’ve done a fantastic job of taking care of patients and keeping us running during a two-year pandemic. They’re resilient, they’re calm. .. They trust us to do the right thing.”

Marc Larocque is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at Larocque@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @LaRockPBN.

No posts to display