Steward puts financial Band-Aid on Massachusetts hospitals

Dallas-based Steward Health Care is throwing a financial safety net around its nine Massachusetts hospitals amid reports that the health system was looking to sell four of them to settle its ongoing financial difficulties

"Steward has agreed upon the principal terms for a significant financial transaction to help stabilize our company," Michael Callum, MD, executive vice president of Steward, said in an employee message shared with Becker's.

Dr. Callum reassured employees that the funding will help stabilize operations, allowing for the health system to continue its Massachusetts hospital operations. 

"To be clear, we have no current plans to close any of our hospitals in Massachusetts," Dr. Callum said. "Moreover, the company is advanced in an M&A process that would bring in a significant equity partner to our physician organization, and the company has already received very significant bids as part of this process."

Dr. Callum said the finances will help get Steward to the M&A process closing and will ensure funding for a "robust national physician group and the time needed for Steward to consider transferring one or more of our hospitals to other operators."

Steward's message was met with a positive response from members of Quincy, Mass.-based 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a healthcare union that represents 80,000 Massachusetts healthcare workers.

"The care provided by the 5,000 members of 1199 throughout the Steward system and their co-workers is essential to the communities they serve, sometimes being the only hospital in the area for patients. We must protect community care and avoid exacerbating health inequities," Tim Foley, executive vice president of 1199SEIU, said in a statement shared with Becker's.

News of the financial transaction comes as Somerville, Mass.-based Mass General Brigham is considering sending its physicians back to Steward's Holy Family Hospital campuses in Haverhill and Methuen, Mass., a spokesperson confirmed with Becker's

The physicians were removed from performing elective and emergency procedures or surgical cases at the hospitals after learning that specific surgical equipment might not be available. 

Holy Family Hospital was one of the four hospitals initially named as potentially being up for sale. 

The other hospitals are Ayer, Mass.-based Nashoba Valley Medical Center; Boston-based St. Elizabeth's Medical Center; and Norwood (Mass.) Hospital, which had plans to rebuild after closing in 2020 due to flood damage, Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch told WCVB.

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