Westerly Hospital has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over agreements it made with doctors not to compete for business. Westerly officials haven’t admitted wrongdoing, but the hospital’s arrangement with doctors may have contributed to higher patient costs.
Rhode Island regulators have given their final approval for the sale of Westerly Hospital to the New London-based Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.
The head of Rhode Island’s Department of Health and the state's Attorney General have signed off on the deal to sell Westerly to L&M. Now, the deal is expected to close June first. Westerly Hospital has been in receivership since 2011 and under the leadership of a special master. L&M spokesman Michael O’Farrell says the special master will stay on through the closing date.
Rhode Island authorities have until the end of April to make a decision about whether to allow the sale of Westerly Hospital to Connecticut-based Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, but on Wednesday members of the Westerly community will have the chance to comment on the proposed sale.
The Department of Health and the attorney general’s office have final say on the deal, but Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says public input helps to inform the decision.
Westerly Hospital is another step closer to being acquired by New London-based L&M Hospital.
Rhode Island’s department of health and the attorney general’s office say they’ve received a complete application from L&M. The state agencies now have 90 days to review it. If they accept L&M’s offer, Westerly could be the first hospital acquired under the state’s new Hospital Conversions Act.
Some local residents say they plan to protest Westerly Hospital’s recent decision to stop delivering babies later this summer.
Westerly resident Susan Kenyon has organized the Thursday evening candlelight vigil to take place at Westerly Middle School, right before a community meeting about Westerly Hospital’s future. She says she and other local residents are worried that shutting down the maternity ward could be dangerous for pregnant women.
The Westerly Sun reported earlier this month that the attorney in charge of Westerly Hospital since it entered receivership had declared the struggling hospital’s obstetric services safe. But the paper is now reporting that Westerly Hospital will deliver its last babies by this June. Deliveries at the community hospital have fallen over the years, and the hospital may not be able to sustain a large enough roster of doctors to keep the maternity ward doors open.
Westerly Hospital is closer to being acquired by the CT-based nonprofit Lawrence & Memorial. That might provide some relief to the financially troubled hospital, which has been in receivership since late last year (see lots of great posts about that by my illustrious predecessor).