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Passaic safety net hospital to be acquired by Prime Healthcare

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California-based Prime Healthcare Services will enter the New Jersey market after all.

St. Mary's Hospital, in Passaic, announced today it has entered into a purchase agreement to become part of the Prime network.

The for-profit hospital chain attempted to purchase Christ Hospital earlier in the year, but the deal fell through before the Jersey City hospital was sold to Hudson Holdco LLC in bankruptcy proceedings.

St. Mary's had been part of a larger deal with Ascension Health Care Network, a Catholic, for-profit hospital system, but that deal fell through when St. Joseph's Healthcare System's board backed out.

"Today's announcement is an important win for our patients, physicians and staff, who will now have the opportunity to become part of a renowned national health system," said Edward J. Condit, the new president and CEO of St. Mary's, in the announcement.

The announcement says Prime will make a "significant investment in order to financially stabilize St. Mary's Hospital," once the sale is approved by the Department of Health and the attorney general, through the certificate of need and community health asset protection act processes, respectively.

"We look forward to working with St. Mary's as we seek approval from the state," Dr. Prem Reddy, president and CEO of Prime, said in a statement. "Prime Healthcare's motto is saving hospitals, saving jobs and saving lives — and we plan to continue that at St. Mary's, and help it become one of the best hospitals in the state and country."

Prime has a mixed reputation as a hospital operator. The system has been investigated by the federal government for overcharging Medicare for extremely high numbers of rare diseases, and was recently fined for disclosing patient information without permission. But eight Prime hospitals recently were recognized as top performers on key quality measures by The Joint Commission, a national accrediting body.

St. Mary's declined to provide any additional comment, including the purchase price for the hospital.

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