The Globe is reporting today that support for the sale of the Archdiocese of Boston-owned Caritas Christi Healthcare is growing. Local officials, employee unions, the medical community, state representatives, community leaders even retirees are on-board with the sale of the six-hospital non-profit system to Cerberus Capitol Management – a private equity firm. Oversite of this sale falls to Attorney General Martha Coakley – who needs to be convinced that this is the best option for the survival of the healthcare system – and the DPH – that must approve the licensure of any new ownership. The AG and state are in the midst of a series of public hearings that will allow input on the proposal from all stakeholders and concerned parties. For Cerberus – it’s so far – so good – with cautions coming on the questions of the continued Catholic identity of the hospitals and continued healthcare access to certain programs and the possibility of hospital closings. There is some question about the firmness of project “guarantees.”
Ellen Murphy Meehan, a former Vice-President at Lawrence General Hospital, attended one of the hearings and spoke pointedly for the Health Care Access Coalition:
Ellen Murphy Meehan, coordinator for the Health Care Access Coalition, a group of caregivers in low-income communities, said “a transfer of ownership of a nonprofit system of this size and significance to a for-profit is unprecedented and requires a higher level of scrutiny than any we have seen in Massachusetts ever before.’’
Healthcare in the Merrimack Valley is part of these considerations as the Holy Family Hospital in Methuen – a major area hospital – is part of the Caritas system. As they note on their website: At our 254-bed, not-for-profit Catholic hospital, we serve some 450,000 individuals and their families in 20 communities throughout the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire.
The final hearing on the Caritas-Cerberus proposal will be in Methuen next week. Voice your opinion.
Read the full story by Robert Weisman and Megan Woolhouse here in the Globe.