Mass General Brigham withdraws physicians from Steward hospital

Mass General Brigham has withdrawn its physicians from Steward Health Care's Holy Family Hospital campuses in Haverhill and Methuen, Mass., the Boston Business Journal reported Jan. 26.

The Somerville, Mass.-based system notified staff of the change in a Jan. 26 email, saying physicians will no longer perform elective and emergency procedures or surgical cases at the hospital, according to the report.

"This decision was made because of concerns about practicing in an environment that does not meet our standards of safe patient care," the email read, according to the Boston Business Journal.

Tom Sequist, MD, chief medical officer of Mass General Brigham, said the health system made the decision after learning that certain surgical equipment may not be available at Holy Family. 

Dr. Sequist said "a small number" of physicians were performing surgeries at the hospital.

"We have contacted impacted patients, and we are working to reschedule their procedures as soon as possible at a nearby Mass General Brigham or community hospital location," he told Becker's on Jan. 26. "We do not have specific knowledge of safety concerns at Holy Family, and we are working through this situation as it evolves so that we are in a position to best serve our patients."

Steward said Mass General Brigham physicians will remain as on-call providers and treat unstable patients requiring emergency care at Holy Family. The hospital operator also stood behind Holy Family Hospital's surgical care quality, citing a history of strong positive performance in CMS and Leapfrog safety rankings.

"We deeply regret Mass General Brigham's decision to no longer conduct surgeries at Holy Family Hospital, a facility that serves a vulnerable patient population in their community, who need and deserve quality healthcare close to home," a Steward spokesperson told Becker's, adding that the decision will exacerbate health disparities in the community. 

"The fact that one of the largest healthcare providers in Massachusetts rescinded their care underscores the fact that Steward hospitals do not receive the support they need, nor the recognition of the quality care they provide," the spokesperson said. 

The move comes as Steward looks to sell Holy Family Hospital and three other Massachusetts hospitals amid continued financial turmoil. Craig Jesiolowski, president of Holy Family's Methuen campus, also shared plans last week that he will exit for a new role with Carbondale-based Southern Illinois Healthcare.

Dallas-based Steward, which owns and operates 33 community hospitals in nine states, has reportedly hired a law firm and turnaround consulting firm to explore restructuring options, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 25. At the end of 2023, Steward was around $50 million behind on rent to Medical Properties Trust, the largest hospital landlord in the U.S.

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