BOSTON (AP) — The state Public Health Council has voted to grant a license to transfer ownership of South Shore Hospital in Weymouth to Partners HealthCare System.

Council members, on a 9-to-1 vote with one abstention, approved a "determination of need" certificate under which Boston-based Partners, the state's largest hospital and physicians' organization, would become sole corporate owner of the 378-bed regional hospital.

The vote was the first step in an ongoing regulatory process.

The Boston Globe ( ) reports that takeover critics questioned whether Wednesday's vote would trump federal and state agencies' scrutiny of the deal. The U.S. Justice Department examines antitrust implications of proposed acquisitions.

Partners, which owns Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's hospitals in Boston along with seven other hospitals, is cooperating with the Justice Department inquiry.


Information from: The Boston Globe,