October 27, 2013 2:22 PM
Staff and wire reports

PROVIDENCE, R.I. • The company that operates Victorville’s Desert Valley Hospital is one step closer to obtaining two more hospitals in Rhode Island.

The state health chief has granted final regulatory approval for Prime Healthcare Services Inc. to buy the troubled Landmark Medical Center and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island.

The decision by Department of Health Director Michael Fine takes Prime Healthcare Services closer to acquiring the hospitals based in Woonsocket and North Smithfield, R.I.

Fine announced Friday that he’s approved the “change of effective control” application as well as the conversion application.

The Rhode Island Attorney General’s office still has to approve the conversion application.

Founded in 1994, Desert Valley Hospital is Prime Healthcare Services’ flagship hospital. Based in Ontario, Prime Healthcare Services now operates 23 hospitals in five states.

Landmark President Rick Charest said the regulatory approval caps five years of uncertainty for hospital workers and people living around Woonsocket, R.I.