This past week, the Archdiocese of Boston/Caritas Christi Health Care and Ascension Health released a joint statement to announce that Ascension has decided not to buy the six Caritas Christi hospitals. The primary breaking point was that the hospital chain is in worse financial shape than Ascension had expected.
HCFA and Health Law Advocates have been working with community members in each of the six hospital communities affected by this move – Holy Family in Methuen, St. Elizabeth’s in Brighton, Caritas Carney in Dorchester, Norwood Hospital, Good Samaritan in Brockton, and St. Anne’s in Fall River.
We were surprised by the news and disappointed. Ascension Health, with its reputation for financial stability and quality care, could have done great things for all six hospitals. When the deal was announced last February, we decided to support community involvement in the hospital transfer process by bringing together interested community members in each area to advocate for their own community’s needs in the process. Because Ascension was coming to MA for the first time, we felt it important for communities to let Ascension know their local needs and how their hospital could continue important programs and improve ways to meet these needs.
Working with local leaders in each of the six affected areas, we supported meetings about the ownership change. These meetings were aimed to inform community members about the Department of Public Health’s process overseeing hospital changes of ownership, and encouraging them to take a proactive approach to bring their voices to the table.
In each community, at least one community organization took the lead, including the Lawrence Mayor’s Health Task Force, Senior Centers in Lawrence and Methuen, the Allston-Brighton CDC ,Dorchester House, the Neponset Valley Community Coalition, the Brockton CHNA, and United Interfaith Action in Fall River. These groups and community members committed themselves to advocating for local needs to ensure their local hospital would meet those needs when Ascension took over. We thank everyone involved in these efforts. Even though there is no need to organize around the Ascension deal, HCFA and HLA are here to support you in advocating for your health care needs, and we hope the relationships formed through this work continue to grow.
These six hospitals are important institutions that provide critical services to their communities. They are in trouble. We are worried for the communities that rely on them. Thank you again to all those who brought such strong energy and commitment to this process!
Rachel Siemons, James Madden, Mary Cyriac