FULL ROOM: The emergency room at Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket. The emergency room saw more than 40,000 visits in 2012, the fourth highest in Rhode Island.
PBN PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
By Richard Asinof
After more than five years in receivership and more than $4.1 million spent to support the efforts of Special Master Jonathan N. Savage to keep Landmark Medical Center financially afloat, state regulators are scheduled to reach a decision on Oct. 28 on the bid by Prime Healthcare Services of Ontario, Calif., to buy the struggling hospital.
Whatever state regulators decide, following the 120-day review process mandated by the state’s Hospital Conversion Act, the future of the Woonsocket community hospital will still be uncertain, despite the confident tone taken by Dr. Prem Reddy, chairman, president and CEO of Prime Healthcare Services, at a July 9 public hearing.
Reddy offered the first detailed public overview of his for-profit hospital network’s plans for Landmark at a public hearing by the Health Services Council of the R.I. Department of Health.
Prime Healthcare’s motto is “saving hospitals, saving jobs, saving lives,” and the job of rescuing financially troubled, acute-care community hospitals is his passion, Reddy told the council. “I don’t travel. I don’t go on vacation. I don’t play golf,” he said.
Nonetheless, maternity services at the acute-care hospital may be forced to close due to lack of patient volume. The high use of Landmark’s emergency room, with more than 40,000 visits in 2012, the fourth highest in Rhode Island, promises to come under increasing scrutiny as part of health care reform, with questions about whether payments spent on ER visits would be better invested in more cost-effective delivery of primary-care and behavioral-health services.
The critical challenge, according to Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts, isn’t whether Prime Healthcare is the successful bidder for Landmark. Rather, she said, it’s whether the new owners will promote a system in which the care delivered is based on value over volume, with improved health outcomes for Woonsocket residents – where three-quarters of the payer mix receives Medicaid or Medicare health benefits.