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PAWTUCKET â€” Moving closer to a formal partnership, the Care New England hospital group and Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island have asked state regulators for an expedited review of their contemplated affiliation under the Hospital Conversions Act.
Theirs is the second request for expedited review since the HCA was amended earlier this year under a measure championed by Woonsocket State Senator Roger Picard to allow the state Department of Health and the Attorney Generalâ€™s Division to fast-track hospital mergers.
Memorial qualifies for the review, in part, because it meets certain benchmarks for financial distress. Among other things, the hospital posted operating losses of nearly $10 million during the first three quarters of 2012, according to documents filed with DOH.
â€śI certify that the acquiree operates a distressed hospital facing significant financial hardship that may impair its ability to continue to operate effectively without the proposed conversion,â€ť an affidavit signed by Memorial CEO Arthur J. DeBlois III says in the request.
Since January 2010, the hospital said, there has never been a period longer than 4.47 days during which the hospital could operate with cash on hand. The hospitalâ€™s debts represent half the worth of its assets and its in-patient occupancy rate has never exceeded 30 percent of its available bed space for nearly three years.
CNE and MHRI signed a letter of intent in September signaling that they were in the preliminary stages of exploring a partnership.
Read more in our print edition.