The Rhode Island Health Services Council, an advisory group, has recommended allowing two wealthy out-of-state healthcare executives to acquire the full ownership of Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in North Providence and Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence.

The decision of whether to approve the recommendation for the CharterCARE hospitals now rests with state Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.

United Nurses and Allied Professionals, which represents workers at Fatima, is urging Alexander-Scott to reject the change in ownership.

Sam Lee and David Topper, who own about 40 percent of Prospect Medical Holdings, a group of about 17 hospitals across the U.S., want to acquire the remaining 60 percent of the company from Leonard Green Partners, a Los Angeles equity fund.

Supporters say this transfer will not affect the operation of the hospitals, and they credit Lee and Topper with making improvements at the Rhode Island hospitals over the last seven years.

But as The Public’s Radio has reported, a fierce battle has been playing out over the proposed change in ownership of the Rhode Island hospitals, with critics decrying how Leonard Green has extracted tens of millions of dollars in dividends for investors from its hospitals.

CharterCARE spokesman Otis Brown declined a request for an interview.

UNAP President Lynn Blais criticized the Health Services Counci’s recommendation to allow the change in ownership.

“They ignored critical testimony and evidence from their own consultants that exposed the dangerous business practices that have enriched Sam Lee and David Topper and threatened the financial viability of two community hospitals,” Blais said in a statement. “Common sense demonstrates that these two self-absorbed millionaires should not control the destiny of Our Lady of Fatima Hospital and Roger Williams Medical Center.”

An independent accounting report presented to the Health Services Council, by the accounting firm PYA, shows the new ownership group has far more liabilities than assets, and critics fear that could lead to worsening care at the two Rhode Island hospitals.

Attorney General Peter Neronha has yet to complete his review of the proposed transaction. And United Nurses and Allied Professionals, which represents Fatima workers, wants Dr. Alexander-Scott to oppose the recommended change in ownership.

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, whose district include Fatima, and Sen. Louis DiPalma (D-Middletown), chair of the Senate Rules, Government and Oversight Committee, criticized the recommendation by the Health Services Council.

“There have been a number of very concerning red flags, including several serious issues raised by the consultant hired by the Council to advise them on the proposed transaction,” Ruggerio and DiPalma said in a joint statement. “These issues should have given the Council pause. Unfortunately, the warning signs were ignored, which could impact the future of the hospitals, including access, quality and affordability. We are also very concerned about the potential impact to the dedicated staff who continue to provide exemplary service to their patients.”

The two senators called on Alexander-Scott and her staff to conduct a comprehensive review of the report from PYA.

Ian Donnis can be reached at idonnis@ripr.org. Follow him on Twitter @IanDon. Sign up here for his weekly RI politics and media newsletter.