WOONSOCKET — After a preliminary review of Landmark Medical Center’s application to merge with Steward Health Care System, state regulators have deemed the paperwork incomplete, but a Landmark spokesman dismissed the notion that the assessment means the merger is in jeopardy.
“It’s not a bump,” said Bill Fischer. “Quite frankly it was expected because if you look at history there’s no hospital conversion that I’m aware of that’s had an application deemed complete on the first pass.”
After a 30-day review, state regulators informed the applicants via confidential letter last Thursday that they consider the application lacking in certain information.
Landmark and Steward now have until Dec. 27 to rectify the situation. The regulators then have 10 more days to determine whether the amended application is in a condition that warrants continued consideration.
“We’re on a new 30-day time clock and it’s on track,” Fischer said. “There’s nothing extraordinary happening here. It’s just a normal flow between the applicant and regulators in a very substantive and thorough process.”
Landmark voluntarily entered a form of court-supervised receivership in June 2008, saying it was on the brink of insolvency and that its only hope for survival was to be bought out by a financially sound health care provider.
Steward’s bid to acquire the struggling hospital was approved by Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein in May after a lengthy, contentious vetting process involving at least a half-dozen competing suitors. Steward is a relatively new for-profit hospital group that was formed when the former Caritas Christi Health Care network was acquired by a New York investment company last year. Previously, Caritas Christi had been owned by the Archdiocese of Boston.
Under the state’s Hospital Conversions Act (HCA), the merger must be approved by the office of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and the state Department of Health.
Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, declined to say what additional information regulators are seeking in the amended application from Landmark and Steward.
“The Office of Attorney General and the RI Dept. of Health sent a joint letter to Steward and Landmark indicating the HCA (application) was incomplete,” Kempe said in a statement. “As for the contents of the letter, it is confidential as it is a pending matter before this office.”