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Rhode Island approves L+M, Westerly Hospital merger with Yale-New Haven, with conditions

The Rhode Island Department of Health and Attorney General’s offices on Thursday approved the application of Lawrence + Memorial Healthcare, which includes The Westerly Hospital, to affiliate with the Yale-New Haven Health System.

The approval is a major hurdle toward the joining of the two hospital networks, which applied for permission from health regulators in Connecticut and Rhode Island last fall to affiliate.

No decision has been made yet by the Connecticut Office of Healthcare Access.

The application was deemed complete in Rhode Island in June, and a public hearing took place on it in Westerly on Aug. 2.

Mike O’Farrell, spokesman for L+M, said the hospital is pleased with the decision.

“We are reviewing the conditions in each ruling and remain grateful for final approval from each of the Rhode Island entities,” he said.

In a news release, the Rhode Island health department said that it imposed a series of “patient- and community-focused conditions” on the approval.

“Our top priorities are ensuring that Rhode Islanders have access to high-quality health services and care in every zip code throughout the state and ensuring the health and sustainability of our state’s health care system as a whole,” said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Rhode Island's director of health.

Conditions of the approval include that new larger hospital network must:

• Ensure access to services for all patients without discrimination, including payment source or ability to pay;

• Participate in interventions to improve the safety of opioid prescribing and expand medication-assisted treatment and services to address the overdose epidemic;

• Sumbit a plan to the health department to establish relationships with tribal nations.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said he believes the affiliation will strengthen Westerly Hospital.

He noted that this is the second time in three years he has reviewed a change in the ownership of Westerly Hospital, reflecting the shift from stand-alone community hospitals to networks.

Westerly Hospital became part of the L+M network three years ago.

j.benson@theday.com 

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