DPH Approves Caritas Transfer
The Department of Public Health’s Public Health Council today put its stamp of approval on the transfer of the six Caritas Christi hospitals to Steward Health Care. Approval of the deal by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which is expected next week, will finalize the conversion of these Catholic owned hospitals to for-profit businesses run by Steward.
The PHC confirmed the conditions placed on the deal by Attorney General Martha Coakley and also added its own conditions to ensure the hospitals provide interpreter services for its patients.
The decision culminates nearly five months of outreach by Health Care For All and our partners to understand and reflect the needs and priorities of the six affected communities of the Caritas hospital system. While some of these needs differed by community, the resounding consumer consensus was that these community hospitals need to be healthy and continue to be an integral part of their social fabric by providing health care of the highest quality in culturally competent and appropriate ways.
Much of the discussion at the Council meeting centered on the need for the AG and the DPH to develop an independent and comprehensive monitoring program to focus on the consequences of this deal, particularly as they relate to consumers and the patients of the Steward health care system. As Health Care For All has said many times, this is an unprecedented deal in Massachusetts’ history, and it provides unprecedented opportunities to protect the needs of consumers by creating innovative oversight and monitoring mechanisms.
Health Care For All will focus our own monitoring efforts on the continuing fiscal health of these hospitals and looks forward to working with Steward to reinvigorate its community benefits program through increased investment in the infrastructure of consumer-focused non-profit organizations around each hospital. While we are pleased at Steward’s voluntary adoption of the AG’s Community Benefits Guidelines, we ask that they meet the Community Benefits target funding level of investing at least three percent of patient operating expenses into the community that each hospital serves.