A special master overseeing the finances of The Westerly Hospital is preparing to receive formal offers to buy the troubled facility, which went into receivership on Dec. 6.
Special Master W. Mark Russo on Feb. 28 was due to seek permission in Washington County Superior Court to begin the official process of accepting proposals to purchase the hospital. He’ll also seek permission to hire a consultant to market the hospital and review proposals, he told Providence Business News.
Russo, a Providence lawyer, says the hospital’s location makes it attractive to potential buyers.
“Westerly Hospital is unlike most hospitals in the state,” he said. “It’s a remote location and fairly isolated when compared to Providence, where there are several hospitals. That fact alone makes it very attractive to a potential buyer.”
The lack of a competing hospital in the same town also makes a sale crucial to the community, he acknowledged, and something he’s already begun working on.
“It’s very important to the community that the hospital remains open, or people would have to drive 20 miles in any direction for health care,” he said.
“The first thing we needed to do was to ensure [the hospital’s] financial stability, so $3.3 million has been set aside to cover operational costs,” he said. “Once we secured its ability provide care and serve the community, we started to approach other hospitals to solicit their interest.”
Although Russo has previously identified Lawrence & Memorial Hospital of New London, Conn., and Yale-New Haven Hospital as hospitals of interest, he declined to name additional health care providers with which he has had discussions, but said he has met with several institutions, both in Rhode Island and out of state. One health provider he declined to name has even submitted a preliminary plan to his office, signifying interest in a sale.
In August of last year, Lawrence & Memorial and Westerly Hospital began a due-diligence process to determine if a merger or affiliation would benefit both facilities and their communities. Those discussions came to an immediate end once Westerly announced its receivership.
Lawrence & Memorial, however, may still be interested in Westerly Hospital.