Caritas amenaza cerrar dos hospitales: informe

por Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | September 27, 2010
Caritas Christi executives threatened to shut the doors on two hospitals in their six-hospital system if the controversial sale to a New York private equity firm is thwarted, according to media reports.

Last week, executives of the Eastern Massachusetts hospital group said they would close St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton and Carney Hospital in Dorchester if opponents block the proposed sale to Cerberus Capital Management, The Boston Globe said.

The newspaper reported that two attendees of a contract negotiation between Caritas and a Massachusetts nurses' group said the executives made the statement during the meetings. The attendees refuse to be named because they are not authorized to discuss the deal, the Globe said.

St. Elizabeth's employs 1,900 people, and Carney and 1,150, according to the Globe.

Opponents of the sale range from Catholic groups worried the hospitals would lose their religious character as they go for-profit, to rival hospitals afraid they can't compete against "private equity money."

But the hospitals are badly in need of the cash Cerberus promises to inject into the ailing hospital chain. According to the Globe, Cerberus has promised to invest $400 million in renovations and between $430 and $450 million for pension liability and other expenses.

The Globe said the two attendees told the paper that during contract negotiations between Massachusetts Nurses Association and the hospital chain, the executives pushed the group to accept a wage freeze on nurses and to get 60 nurses to take early retirement by the end of the month. Already, more than 90 nurses have taken early retirement since the spring, the Globe said.

State Attorney General Martha Coakley is expected to make her recommendation on the sale this fall to the Supreme Judicial Court of the state, which then has to approve the deal.