WOONSOCKET – Just two days after Mayor Leo T. Fontaine excoriated them for dragging their feet, state regulators announced late Friday they’ve deemed Prime Healthcare Services’ application to buy Landmark Medical Center complete.
Under the Hospital Conversions Act, the Office of the Attorney General (RIAG) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) now have up to 120 days to decide whether to allow the sale of the struggling hospital to go through.
“The review of the initial application was suspended on March 29, 2013, when the transacting parties failed to provide the required information within the statutory timeframe,” the RIAG and DOH said in a joint statement. “Staff from the RIAG and HEALTH have continued to work with the transacting parties to ensure the inclusion of all the information needed to conduct the review of the application pursuant to the Hospital Conversions Act.”
The regulators also announced that they had approved Prime’s twin applications for change of effective control of Landmark and its affiliate, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island, another statutory prerequisite to completing the package deal.
Both of the applications must also be approved by the Health Services Council, an arm of the health department which has yet to schedule the matter for a hearing, the regulators said.
Based in Ontario, Calif., Prime is a 21-bed for-profit hospital chain whose nearest hospitals to Rhode Island are in New Jersey. The group also owns hospitals in Texas, Nevada and Pennsylvania in addition to California.
It’s the third suitor for Landmark since the hospital filed for receivership in June 2008. The Caritas Christi network withdrew before submitting an application on the hospital for consideration under the HCA. But the Massachusetts-based chain’s successor company, Steward Health Care, withdrew last year several months after regulators approved the company’s application.
In a public statement that was widely covered by the local press and national health publications earlier this week, Fontaine asked Gov. Lincoln Chafee to intercede in the regulator process, calling for an end to the “pointless, destructive foot-dragging associated with the review process.” Chafee did not publicly respond to the letter.
Prime first submitted the offer on the hospital in Superior Court in late 2012, days after Steward walked away following a dispute with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island over reimbursement rates is pays for procedures performed at Landmark.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo