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NBC 10 I-Team: Union moves to stop purchase of Johnston surgical center

One nurses’ union is moving to block a change in control over a Johnston surgical center.

The United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) has filed an objection with the Rhode Island Dept. of Health over Prospect CharterCare LLC’s move to take control of Blackstone Valley Surgicare, saying the for-profit company is not being forthcoming with information and is not financially viable, according to documents obtained by the NBC 10 I-Team.

An 11-page summary filed with the Rhode Island Department of Health argues that the application is incomplete because it does not include information about charges, investigations or violations against Prospect CharterCare. The objection also alleges that a full list of its parent company’s subsidiaries and a list of its competence and qualifications are missing from the application.

Prospect CharterCare, is a for-profit combination of CharterCare Health Partners and Prospect Medical Holdings. It owns Roger Williams Medical Center, St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island/Our Lady of Fatima Hospital and other services providers.

“We raised questions about the financial viability and questions of how forthcoming they are with state regulators - Those are not minor things,” Chris Callaci, the attorney representing UNAP told the NBC 10 I-Team. “What we’ve said is ‘look Health Services Council they haven’t been forthcoming, look at the file and vet this, do your diligence.’”

UNAP points to fines levied against hospital affiliates under the Prospect Medical Holdings umbrella including those levied against two West Coast hospitals for exposing patients to “immediate jeopardy.”

UNAP is also asking the Health Services Council to consider a June 2016 Moody’s negative rating of Prospect Medical Holdings. The negative rating is based on the company’s risk associated with a number of acquisitions.

The Moody’s report said Prospect’s challenge will be in scaling existing infrastructure in the integration process, the need to improve operating results at the acquired facilities and the establishment of operations and physician relationships in new markets.

Prospect Medical Holdings is one of the contenders in a potential merger with Care New England, according to Care New England CEO Dennis Keefe.

When talks of a merger with Southcoast Health System were over, Keefe contacted Lifespan, Prospect Medical Holdings and Partners Healthcare in Boston, (all responded to the group’s request for proposals for a potential merger). Keefe told the Providence Journal that those same companies and others have expressed interest in a merger with Care New England.

“If they are being downgraded by Moody’s, having them buy a surgical center and potentially buying Care New England - it worries us greatly,” Callaci said.

Prospect Medical said it’s prepared to go before the Health Services Council.

"Chartercare Health Partners is looking forward to presenting its case to the Health Services Council and detailing its impressive record of quality patient care and safety,” said a spokesman in a company statement provided to NBC 10’s I-Team. “We believe there is no merit to the labor union’s objections.”

UNAP planned to express their concern before the council during a hearing scheduled on March 14, but the hearing was cancelled due to a winter storm.

Prospect will go before the Council on Tues., March 21. Eventually, the Council will vote on the proposal, and then the Rhode Island Department of Health will either accept or reject that recommendation.

“They have our written filing and we asked to present testimony to flush it out, but I’m not sure we will have the opportunity now,” Callaci said.

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