By Richard Asinof
(Updated, 11 a.m.)
PROVIDENCE – U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline on Tuesday led a group of citizens urging Rhode Island regulators to speed approval of the sale of the Landmark Medical Center of Woonsocket and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island.
The for-profit Steward Health Care and Landmark reached an asset purchase agreement of $71.6 million in June.
“Landmark Medical Center has served the people of northern Rhode Island and particularly the residents of Woonsocket for more than 130 years,” Cicilline said. “It’s a really treasured asset in the community and the only available hospital for many residents who don’t have the means to travel to Rhode Island Hospital, the next closest facility, which sometimes can take more than a half-hour to get to. It’s important that we protect this hospital to make sure that the people of northern Rhode Island have access to quality, affordable health care.”
Also in attendance were Woonsocket Mayor Leo T. Fontaine of Woonsocket and John C. Gregory, president and CEO of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce.
Gregory offered his support for moving the sale of the hospital forward. “It’s not too often that labor and business are standing together at the same podium,” Gregory said, acknowledging Christopher Callaci, the general counsel for United Nurses & Allied Professionals, the union representing workers at Landmark.
The R.I. Department of Health and the R.I. Attorney General’s announced Wednesday that the application submitted under the Hospital Conversions Act by Steward Health Care and Landmark Medical Center has been deemed complete.
State regulators will now start the formal review of the application; they have 180 days to make a determination.
“Today’s announcement signals the completion of this phase of the process,” said Dr. Michael Fine, director of the R.I. Department of Health.
“It also highlights the success of a collaborative approach; recognizing the importance of health care jobs to the Woonsocket community and the availability of accessible and affordable health services in northern Rhode Island,” he added.
As of Dec. 31, 2011, Landmark’s current cash on hand was $1.59 million according to Landmark spokesman Bill Fischer. The hospital’s finances have been aided by a line of credit issued by Steward Health Care to help during the period of regulatory review. For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2011, Landmark had 7,056 discharges, 74,000 non-emergency outpatient visits, about 42,000 emergency department visits, and 400 deliveries of newborns.
Dan Couture of North Smithfield also spoke about the importance of the community hospital. He went to Landmark’s emergency room this past Christmas suffering from pains in his shoulder, only to discover he was having a heart attack. The doctors placed stents in two of his arteries and restored the flow of blood to his heart, saving his life.
“I may not have had enough time to get to Providence to be treated,” Couture said. “If not for the care received, I was going to die on Christmas.”
Couture, who is married and has two children, said he had been going to Landmark for most of his life, back when it was known as Woonsocket Hospital.
Update: Application was deemed complete by R.I. Department of Health and R.I. Attorney General.