Feb 29, 2024 - Health

State leaders demand that Steward Health leave Massachusetts

St. Elizbeth hospital

St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton. Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts' top officials have had it with Steward Health Care, the hospital chain whose financial free fall they claim has threatened public health across the eastern part of the state.

Why it matters: Gov. Maura Healey and House Speaker Ron Mariano laid into Steward earlier this week, calling for the company to reveal its finances, sell its hospitals and leave Massachusetts entirely.

  • The chain manages nine hospitals that thousands of Boston-area patients rely on for emergency, outpatient and primary care, mostly in lower-income areas.
  • Health care providers have to disclose some financial information to regulators and inform them of impending closures under state law.

What they're saying: "Steward has practiced a game of hide-the-numbers, and they've been very successful at it," Mariano said.

Threat level: Court records show Steward has stopped paying vendors and owes about $50 million in back rent, according to landlords.

  • The Department of Public Health placed monitors at Steward's facilities earlier this month to ensure access and safe staffing levels.

Healey has called on the chain to maintain staffing levels, cooperate with DPH monitors and make as smooth an exit from the local market as possible.

  • She said she's frustrated that Steward won't comply with requests for audited financial data.
  • "The reason it is not audited is because no auditor will sign off on the financial information," Healey said.

Zoom in: The Dallas-based chain owns the Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton, the Holy Family Hospitals in Haverhill and Methuen and others.

🦇 It could be worse. The intensive care unit of a Steward-owned hospital in Florida is reportedly covered in bat feces the chain is refusing to pay to clean up.

What's next: Mariano said "there's always a chance" of legal action if Steward doesn't move out of the state and disclose its finances.

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