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By Richard Asinof
By Richard Asinof
WOONSOCKET – Landmark Medical Center has entered its fifth year in receivership. It was June 26, 2008, when the financially struggling community hospital was first granted court protection.
But the proposed sale of the hospital for $62 million to Prime Healthcare Services of Ontario, Calif., has been slow in coming. Only last week, state regulators deemed the application to buy Landmark complete, starting the clock on the 120-day approval process.
A number of pieces of the application had been deemed incomplete, among them details related to two more corporate entities – Prime Healthcare Holdings Inc. and Prime Healthcare Management Inc. – that need to be listed as parties to the merger, according to a May 30 letter sent by state regulators, as reported by The Woonsocket Call.
Regulators also asked for clarification regarding the proposed board composition of Prime Healthcare Services-Landmark LLC, the new entity being created.
On June 25, in a letter sent to Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and to a limited number of news media outlets – but not to state regulators, Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine attempted to inject politics into the matter, asking Chafee to take “firm, decisive action” and end “the pointless foot-dragging” associated with the review process.
Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for the R.I. Attorney General’s office, took exception to the major’s letter – and the fact that it was not shared with state regulators – in a strongly worded response. “Political expediency by [Mayor Fontaine] will not short circuit the common law and statutory duties of the regulators,” Kempe said. In the end, she continued, “it is the long-term health of the hospital and its ability to provide quality care to Mayor Fontaine’s constituents and those of the region that we are most concerned about.” Instead, Kempe suggested that Fontaine should have been calling on Prime Healthcare and the court-appointed Special Master Jonathan N. Savage to completely answer all of the questions necessary in an effort to ensure the process moves forward.
Bill Fischer, spokesman for the special master, who is paid $9,000 a month as a part-time consultant, told Rhode Island Public Radio said that “there is a tipping point and we are fast approaching it” in the five-year saga to find a buyer for Landmark.