Prime Healthcare

Tonight, the public will have the chance to comment on the proposed sale of CharterCare Health Partners – which owns Our Lady of Fatima and Roger Williams hospitals – to California-based Prospect Medical Holdings. But the process hasn’t been without some bumps in the road.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The public comment period has ended and now the Rhode Island health department must decide whether United Healthcare can cut Landmark Medical Center from its insurance network. The decision could affect thousands of patients.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

California-based Prime Healthcare Services won approval earlier this week to buy Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center. But the approval came with conditions. One is that the company keep Rhode Island regulators abreast of a federal investigation it’s under for allegedly over-billing Medicare. Another is that Prime invest in primary care and in preventing hospital re-admissions. The Department of Health expressed some concern about Prime’s practices at other hospitals, but department head Michael Fine said the terms of the deal to acquire Landmark should allay those concerns.

The deal still has to close, which officials expect by sometime in December. But now some of the hard work begins. How exactly do you turn a faltering hospital around?

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center is about to turn the page on a long and challenging chapter in its history. The struggling hospital has received regulatory approval to be acquired by a for-profit hospital chain called Prime Healthcare. That means an end to five years of uncertainty for employees, patients, and the community.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Today is the deadline for state regulators to decide whether an out-of-state hospital chain can acquire Woonsocket's Landmark Medical Center. The decision will mark the end of five years of uncertainty for the struggling hospital.

Landmark has been in receivership, a kind of bankruptcy, since 2008. It's flirted with several different potential buyers who got cold feet for one reason or another and pulled out. It's battled the state's largest insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island, for higher payments.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Rhode Island regulators have deemed Prime Healthcare’s application to buy Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center complete.

Now the Attorney General and Department of Health can begin their official review of California-based Prime Healthcare’s bid to buy the troubled community hospital. That review begins July 1st and ends October 28th under Rhode Island’s Hospital Conversion Act.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Been wondering what's happening with Landmark Medical Center? So has Woonsocket's mayor, Leo Fontaine. He wrote a letter to Governor Lincoln Chafee, pleading with him to weigh in on the process, use his influence to somehow resolve it. Problem is, regulators say that won't help.

Here are excerpts of the mayor's letter to the governor, a copy of which he apparently emailed to several newsrooms, but not to the primary regulators involved in approving or denying Prime Healthcare's application to buy to Landmark Medical Center:

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island is responding to a lawsuit claiming that it stymied Steward Health Care’s bid to acquire Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket.

Steward is the Massachusetts-based, for-profit health care chain that tried to acquire Landmark, which has been in receivership for several years. Steward filed suit in Superior Court this week claiming Blue Cross thwarted those plans purposefully to maintain what Steward calls an unlawful monopoly on commercial insurance and hospital services.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Attorney General and Department of Health officials say they’re suspending their review of Prime Healthcare’s application to buy the Woonsocket-based Landmark Medical Center.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center has appointed a new medical director.

Dr. Glenn Fort has been a member of Landmark’s staff for nearly 25 years, most recently as the head of medical staff. Now, he’ll oversee and coordinate medical care and be the link between medical staff and the hospital’s senior management, including the Special Master. Fort specializes in infectious disease and has additional training in public health.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Rhode Island officials say Prime Healthcare’s application to buy Landmark Medical Center is incomplete.

The Rhode Island attorney general’s office and the Department of Health are telling Landmark and its suitor, Prime Healthcare, that Prime’s initial application to buy the struggling hospital is missing "a significant amount of information."

Prime Healthcare Services, the latest suitor to try to buy Woonsocket’s struggling Landmark Medical Center, is “on a buying spree,” says Modern Healthcare magazine. Prime has closed deals on six financially troubled hospitals and announced its intent to buy Landmark in the past year. The story mention’s Prime’s public relations problems, including a tussle with the Service Employees International Union and an investigation over its billing practices in California, where the firm is based.