'Won't let them use our hospitals as piggy banks': Union puts Prospect Medical Holdings 'on notice'

The union representing workers at Rhode Island community hospitals are putting the owner "on notice" about concerns over a possible sale, The Providence Journal reported Oct. 27.

The statement is from the United Nurses and Allied Professionals, which represents about 6,500 nurses, technologists, therapists, support staff and other healthcare workers in Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut, according to its website.

At issue are the union's concerns about a possible sale involving Providence-based Roger Williams Medical Center, North Providence-based Our Lady of Fatima Hospital and Prospect Home Health and Hospice. CharterCARE Health Partners, part of Los Angeles-based Prospect Medical Holdings, owns the three facilities.

A full-page advertisement in The Providence Journal from the union this week states that Prospect entered Rhode Island and "used their hospitals, including Fatima Hospital, Roger Williams Medical Center and Prospect Home Health and Hospice as collateral to borrow $1.5 billion. They then turned around and paid half a billion dollars in dividends to top shareholders, all while failing to properly invest in Rhode Island's healthcare workers and hospitals. 

"Now, Prospect is looking to sell our community hospitals to another for-profit company, and they're trying to leave Rhode Island just as they came in, refusing to negotiate fair contracts with the nurses and healthcare workers who care for our most vulnerable. We're putting Prospect Medical Holdings on notice. We won't let them use our community hospitals as piggy banks to line their pockets and then skip town, leaving these hospitals saddled with debt and our healthcare heroes without a fair contract."

The advertisement from the United Nurses and Allied Professionals comes as contract negotiations are ongoing with management.

Union General Counsel Chris Callaci told The Providence Journal that during negotiations, management has indicated "we think they [the hospitals] are” for sale.

CharterCARE spokesperson Otis Brown told the newspaper that "Prospect continually explores opportunities for growth or partnerships with organizations throughout the region."

State regulators would have to approve a sale. The boards of Lifespan and Care New England, both based in Providence, withdrew their merger application in February after the Federal Trade Commission and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha said they would file suit to block the deal.

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