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Landmark: It’s (the first step) all (pretty much) over

May 31, 2011

We cannot officially say that Steward Health Care System (AKA the parent company of the Massachusetts Caritas Christi hospital chain) is the new owner of Landmark Medical Center.

There are the corrections to make to the purchase agreement, the actual signing of the document and then that big old hospital conversion act process where both parties kill several forests with the kind of paperwork required by the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Health.

So no, this process is not totally over, but it is a BIG step.  I’ve been covering Landmark’s search for a buyer pretty much since I started working at WRNI.  The process seemed to have no end.  Bidders came and went (and came again!) I spent my birthday in court just to report on yet another delay.  So yes, this is a big move.

What happens next? The state regulators responsible for reviewing the hospital merger application say they will follow their statutory obligation to closely exam Steward’s proposal to buy Landmark. They wouldn’t guess as to the time line for the process.

Felice Freyer from the Providence Journal kept asking the Attorney General and the folks from the Department of Health,

“If they don’t meet the terms of the [hospital conversion] act, would you be able to say no?”

Richard Licht, the director of the Department of Administration butted in and said,

“I’ll answer because they can’t. They will meet their statutorily charged requirement. They can’t do anything else. They will judge it on the merits of the application. I am confident in the Attorney General and in the Department of Health to do that.”

Will regulators really be able to turn Steward away if they don’t approve of  its hospital conversion application?  What’s the possibility of the application failing? Enter stage two of the Landmark saga.

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