Caritas – Cerberus Approvals by November 1st?

Boston Globe writer Robert Weisman tells us today to expect the Massachusetts  Public Health Council – a panel of doctors, consumer advocates and public health specialist – important stakeholders – to follow staff recommendations to approve a license for each of the six hospitals in the Caritas Christi Health Care system. These Caritas hospitals need licensure as part of the sale agreement to new ower Cerberus Capital Management. As with the Attorney General’s recommendation – there are conditions, but these are considered to be minor. Caritas must improve interpreter services and continue to provide community health services.

Of interest to me as a Merrimack Valley resident and Caritas Holy Family Hospital heath care consumer was the response of Public Health Commissioner John Aurbach to some Globe questions:

State regulators also noted that in public hearings co-hosted by the department last summer, and in written statements from the community, “the overwhelming majority of the comments were in support of the transfer of ownership.’’ The one exception was the sale of Holy Family, which generated more concerns than elsewhere, the staff said. (My bold.)

With the Attorney General’s support and the licensure all but guaranteed the next step in this three-part approval process is review by the Supreme Judical Court of Massachusetts. As Weisman notes: “Her (AG Coakley) findings will go to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, whose approval is required to transfer charitable assets to a private enterprise. The court is expected to consider the matter this month.”

If all goes as planned by those who support the purchase and sale of Caritas, this process that began on March 19 when Caritas and Cerberus filed the determination-of-need application – could be completed with all required approvals by November 1st.

Caritas spokeman Chris Murphy got to the heart of the matter for the financially strapped Catholic health care system:

“We appreciate the lengthy and exhaustive process conducted by the DPH to grant our six hospitals licenses.’’

“We look forward to the completion of this transaction, which will ensure that we continue to deliver care to our 1 million patients, preserve the economic security of our 12,000 employees, and protect the pension of our 13,000 pensioners.’’

Read the full article from today’s Globe here.  Stay tuned.