steward health care

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Quincy Medical Center Closing At Year’s End

After years of struggling to balance the books, Quincy Medical Center will close at the end of the year.

Steward Health Care says it is losing nearly $20 million a year at the hospital. It just doesn’t have enough patients — on any given night there are about 40, leaving 80 percent of the beds empty.

The latest setback for Quincy began in 2011, when the large Harvard Vanguard center in Quincy cemented relations with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and began referring most patients to BIDMC Milton or the main BIDMC campus in Boston

Most of the patients who still come to Quincy use the emergency room, are treated and go home without being admitted. Steward plans to open a stand-alone emergency facility and an urgent care clinic sometime next year to handle these patients.

The hospital employs 680 workers. Steward has jobs open for 80 percent of them, says Steward Hospital Group president Mark Girard, with many of those jobs in Quincy. Continue reading

NYT Coverage Of Nurses’ Protest Against Steward

Cerberus in the mythical Greek version

Wow, The New York Times sent its A Team to cover yesterday’s protest by about 250 nurses at the Park Avenue office of Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus is the private equity firm that owns Steward Health Care, the hospital network that has been expanding rapidly of late in Massachusetts.

The byline on the City Room report is Nina Bernstein, the multiple-prize-winning reporter known for doing some of the country’s best work on immigrants, the poor and the social services system (See her latest feature, on an illegal immigrant who can’t get a kidney transplant.) The headline: “Nurses accuse equity firm of cutting patient care.” Nina has some fun with the Cerberus thing, writing:

Instead of the inflatable rat that has become ho-hum at union protests in New York, a giant three-headed dog with fangs was the effigy on display as about 250 unionized nurses rallied outside the Midtown headquarters of the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

Last year the firm added 10 mostly Catholic community hospitals in the Boston area to its portfolio, promising to keep the same level of services or to provide even better services. But carrying signs that proclaimed “Cerberus Is a Lying Dog,” and that urged “Get Wall Street Out of Health Care,” members of the nurses’ union, National Nurses United, accused the firm of proving to be more like its namesake, the canine monster in Greek mythology that guarded the gates of hell.

Among the nurses’ accusations: A firing for trying to unionize, and corporate cuts in patients’ nighttime juice and bread. The story includes a response from Steward:

Christopher Murphy, a spokesman for Steward, called the allegations “totally fabricated” as part of a dispute over pensions, which is now in arbitration. The union’s campaign “has nothing to do with improving health care or even the conditions of their own nurses,” who are highly paid and working at award-winning hospitals, he said. “It is an attempt to pressure our hospitals to provide richer benefits.”

Mass. Nurses Union Members Plan NYC Trip To Protest Against Steward

An 'Occupy Wall Street' scene

We’re hearing rumblings of discontent from unionized nurses at Steward Health Care hospitals, the rapidly growing — at least in recent months — chain owned by Park Avenue private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

A press release from the Massachusetts Nurses Association says that boarding buses for a Park Avenue protest tomorrow will be MNA nurses from Steward-owned Carney Hospital, Good Samaritan Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital, Merrimack Valley Hospital, Morton Hospital, Norwood Hospital, Quincy Medical Center and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center. From the release:

New York City – Hundreds of nurses and their supporters from across the U.S. will converge outside the offices of Cerberus Capital Management, 299 Park Avenue, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 12:30 p.m., to protest the practices of the multi-billion dollar private equity firm’s health care unit, Steward Health Care System…

The nurses — from Massachusetts, and joined by RNs from NY, DC, CA, Il, PA and NV — are members of National Nurses United, the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the U.S., with 170,000 members. Nurses, allies and Occupy Wall Street protesters will speak at the rally, which will also feature theater and a 10-foot, three-headed dog, “Cerberus,” the mythical canine at the Gates of Hell.

Breaking: Saints Medical Center Goes To Steward

Massachusetts hospitals are changing hands and consolidating so fast my head is spinning. Here’s the latest news: Steward Health Care is buying Saints Medical Center in Lowell. From the Steward press release:

Saints Medical Center to join Steward Health Care System

Boston – July 21, 2011 – Saints Medical Center (Saints) announced today that its Board of Trustees voted to enter into and execute an asset purchase agreement to become a part of Steward Health Care LLC (Steward), the largest fully integrated community care organization in New England.

“Having Saints Medical Center join Steward means that Lowell will finally have two financially secure hospitals here to serve the needs of the community. That will improve the quality of care delivered locally and increase access to local health care services for the people of the Greater Lowell community,” said Stephen J. Guimond, Saints President and CEO.

And:

As part of the affiliation agreement Steward will provide Saints Medical Center with:

-A five-year capital commitment with a $35 million investment
-Immediate access to $5 million in capital for mutually agreed upon capital needs
• A commitment to maintain all community benefits and charity care at current levels
•  A commitment to maintain Saints as an acute care hospital for a minimum of 10 years
Immediate access to Steward’s fully integrated community care organization
A commitment to maintain a locally based Board responsible for hospital quality, physician credentialing and community benefit planning
A commitment to preserve the hospital’s Catholic identity and compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care

Breaking: Patriot Ledger Reports Steward To Buy Quincy Medical Center

The Patriot Ledger’s Jack Encarnacao reports here:

A for-profit investment group that recently purchased eight hospitals in Massachusetts has reached a deal to take over the struggling Quincy Medical Center.

Steward Health Care System, a Boston-based company established last year by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, will buy the nonprofit hospital in a deal approved Monday by the hospital’s board of trustees.

The deal was announced to Quincy Medical Center employees on Tuesday afternoon.

Hospital officials would not comment on the dollar value of the deal, citing negotiations that still need to take place with bondholders

It sounds like the hospital was in dire financial straits. Jack reports:

The hospital, which has a $6 million operating deficit tied mostly to declining patient volumes, is carrying $56 million in debt. The hospital just skipped a monthly payment on those bonds as it sought a partner to help stabilize its finances.

I can’t help but note a bit of irony: When I went to patriotledger.com to read this story, what came across my screen first was a huge ad for Brigham and Women’s Hospital — a “have” downtown hospital advertising while a “have-not” community hospital misses payments and is sold. Or am I reading in too much?

Read the Patriot Ledger story here.