A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

If a Non-Profit Hospital Converts to a For-Profit Hospital, What Does that Mean to Patients and the Community?

If a Non-Profit Hospital Converts to a For-Profit Hospital, What Does that Mean to Patients and the Community?

June 8, 2010

Today begins a month-long series of public hearings before the Attorney General and Department of Public Health on the proposed conversion of the non-profit Caritas Christi hospital network owned by the Boston Archdiocese to the New York-based private equity firm Cerberus who would run the hospitals as for-profit entities.
Health Care For All believes that community hospitals are an integral part of the community fabric. When run well, these hospitals provide vibrant and robust outreach, care, and support for our communities. We want to make sure that community hospitals continue to provide top notch affordable, accessible and quality health care to their host communities.

The Caritas network includes Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Saint Anne’s in Fall River, Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston, Norwood Hospital in Norwood, and Caritas Carney Hospital in Dorchester.

Health Care for All enters this conversion review process with a healthy dose of skepticism. The proposal, to be reviewed by the Attorney General and the Department of Public Health, considers selling six not-for-profit hospitals owned locally by the social justice oriented Archdiocese of Boston to the New York based private equity firm Cerberus, which has never owned nor operated a hospital. This conversion raises many questions.

  • As the profit motive is now a brand new variable in the hospital’s financial equation, what impact will the need to satisfy investors have on the quality, affordability and accessibility of care?
  • The proposed conversion has an agreement for the current administration to stay on for three years. What happens after the three years are up and what is to guard Cerberus from making radical changes such as eliminating key programs or even closing down a hospital?
  • Does the price tag upon which the two parties have agreed, adequately represent the true value of the network? We urge the Attorney General to hire an independent analyst to evaluate the assets and liabilities of the network.
  • Why have Caritas and Cerberus failed to propose the formation of an independent foundation to address community health concerns? Such a foundation is usually a staple in similar hospital conversions.
  • As the Department of Public Health conducts its Determination of Need and Determination of Suitability, we need to make sure that a comprehensive assessment of the needs of the community is conducted. We encourage Caritas and Cerberus to hire a third party analyst to conduct a Community Health Impact Study which would document the current health status of the community and the local health insurance market and analyze the conversion’s effect on the community’s access to health care.
  • How can we ensure that the conditions set out in the agreement are measurable, reviewable, and enforceable?

We are counting on all parties and the public to do the due diligence necessary to make this process a thorough and effective one. With the health of so many residents at stake, we want to make sure that the potential new ownership will have the capacity and the will to continue to provide accessible, affordable and quality care to the residents of the Brockton area and beyond.

Here’s the schedule of the public hearings:

  • Tuesday, June 8th, 6:00PM – 8:00PM, Manthala George Jr. Elementary School, 180 Colonel Bell Drive in Brockton
  • Wednesday, June 16th 6:00PM – 8:00PM, Coakley Middle School, 1350 Washington Street in Norwood
  • Tuesday, June 22nd, 6:00PM – 8:00PM, Brighton High School, 25 Warren Street in Brighton
  • Thursday, June 24th, 6:00PM – 8:00PM, Bristol Community College, 777 Elsbree Street in Fall River
  • Tuesday, June 29th, 6:00PM – 8:00PM, Tenny Middle School, 75 Pleasant Street in Methuen
  • Thursday, July 1st, 6:00PM – 8:00PM, Local 103 IBEW, 256 Freeport Street in Dorchester