WOONSOCKET â€“ Prime Healthcare Services has asked state regulators for more time to submit an application to acquire Landmark Medical Center.
Saying it is aware the 45-day deadline lapsed on Nov. 25, the Ontario, Calif.-based hospital chain wants two more weeks to submit the voluminous amount of paperwork required under the Hospital Conversions Act.
â€śAlthough Prime Health has been working diligently on the application, we respectfully request an extension until Dec. 10, 2010,â€ť a two-paragraph letter from Primeâ€™s lawyers says.
The two agencies that enforce the HCA seemed to be on different pages when The Call inquired about the status of the request Tuesday. Dara Chadwick, spokeswoman for the Department of Health, said the agency had taken the request under advisement.
Amy Kempe of the attorney generalâ€™s office said it had been granted, however. She said a brief extension isnâ€™t an issue for the attorney generalâ€™s office at such a preliminary stage of the review.
â€śWeâ€™re not there yet,â€ť Kempe said.
Prime spokesman Edward Barrera described the request as routine. He said the company needs more time to make sure the application is complete is satisfies all the requirements of the HCA.
The 45-day deadline was originally Primeâ€™s idea, said Barrera. It emerged in Superior Court last month when Judge Michael Silverstein authorized court-appointed special master Jonathan Savage to negotiate with Prime as the exclusive bidder for Landmark Medical Center and its sister facility in North Smithfield, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island.
â€śThis was a self-imposed deadline,â€ť said Barrera. â€śItâ€™s an important and complex process. We just want to make sure everything thatâ€™s supposed to be in the application is in there and that this piece of the process is fully and completely executed.â€ť
Landmark Medical Center, which has been in receivership since June 2008, must find a financially healthy buyer in order to survive, according to the special master. Prime surfaced with a $60 million offer for the hospital in late September after the collapse of 16 months of acquisition proceedings with Steward Health Care, a for-profit hospital chain headquartered in Boston.
Prime Healthcare Services owns 20 hospitals in several states, including California, Nevada, Texas and Pennsylvania. Prime bills itself as a specialist in turning around financially troubled hospitals and, like Steward, it is a for-profit hospital chain.
This is Primeâ€™s second bite at the Landmark apple. It was one of four hospital groups that bid for the hospital in April 2011, dropping out amid what was shaping up as a long and drawn-out bidding war. Since then, Prime has acquired six more hospitals.
Including the now-defunct Caritas Christi chain, Prime is the third court-approved suitor for Landmark since the hospital filed for receivership.