The California healthcare company seeking to purchase Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark won regulatory approval today to acquire Saint Clare’s Health System.

State Superior Court Judge Stephan C. Hansbury in Morris County approved the Community Health Care Protection Act application of Prime Healthcare to acquire Saint Clare’s hospitals in Boonton Township, Denville and Dover and other facilities located throughout Morris and Sussex counties.

David A. Ricci, president and CEO, Saint Michael’s Medical Center, surrounded by supporters, addresses a crowd of supporters who traveled to the Statehouse in Trenton earlier this week to deliver petitions with more than 41,000 signatures to Gov. Christie.

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The state New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Health previously deemed the CHAPA and the Certificate of Need applications for Prime Healthcare to be complete.

“Today is a significant milestone in Saint Clare’s history and its future,” said Leslie D. Hirsch, president and CEO of Saint Clare’s Health System.

"I want to thank the Saint Clare’s board, physicians, staff, employees, volunteers and the communities we serve for their ongoing commitment and dedication to Saint Clare’s. I especially appreciate the hard work of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), our parent organization, and of Prime Healthcare for their combined support and efforts to secure the approvals that will lead to our transfer from CHI to Prime,” Hirsch said.

Prem Reddy, the chairman, president, and CEO of Prime Healthcare, thanked Judge Hansbury, the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Health for “their thorough review of the application and for the time and resources they have dedicated to it.”

Prime Healthcare previously acquired Saint Mary’s hospital in Passaic and has an agreement to purchase Saint Michael’s in Newark, but approvals have been held up for more than two years.

The Save Saint Michael’s Medical Center Coalition was formed earlier this year in an effort to save the hospital from all but certain closure if the sale is not approved.

Closing Saint Michael’s will result in the elimination of more than 1,400 jobs and create a monopoly in in-patient health care services that will drive up costs while forcing patients to seek medical care outside of Newark for certain procedures.

Earlier this week, a contingent of doctors, nurses, patients and elected officials traveled to the Statehouse in Trenton to deliver more than 40,000 signatures urging Christie to approve the sale of Saint Michael’s to Prime Healthcare.

Prime Healthcare has saved 34 hospitals and 35,000 jobs in 11 states nationwide, and has never closed a hospital it has acquired. The company has agreed to keep Saint Michael’s open as an acute-care hospital, hire all current employees, invest $25 million into upgrading Saint Michael’s facilities, technology, and other hospital areas continue to operate within the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs), and continue Charity Care practices.