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Steward Health Care Files for Bankruptcy: Hospitals Remain Open and Patients Urged to Seek Care

Steward Health Care, a company that operates eight hospitals in Massachusetts, has filed for bankruptcy. Despite this, the company assured the public that there will be no interruptions in day-to-day operations and that their hospitals, medical centers, and physician’s offices will remain open to serve patients. Dr. Ralph de la Torre, the CEO of Steward, stated that filing for Chapter 11 restructuring is in the best interests of patients, physicians, employees, and communities at this time.

The bankruptcy filing by Steward Health Care does not come as a surprise to the Healey administration. Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh stated that they had been preparing for this action. She emphasized that Steward hospitals will remain open and urged patients not to hesitate in seeking care. The Healey administration is working with Steward and potential partners to ensure an orderly transfer of ownership that protects access to care, preserves jobs, and stabilizes the healthcare system.

Steward Health Care operates several hospitals, including St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Carney Hospital, Good Samaritan Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital, Haverhill Hospital, Morton Hospital, Nashoba Valley Medical Center, Norwood Hospital, and St. Anne’s Hospital. The financial struggles of Steward have raised concerns among state leaders and others in the healthcare industry. The company has not publicly filed financial records since 2020.

The potential loss of any of Steward’s hospitals would have devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of residents in the region, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association. However, they also see this as an opportunity for other stakeholders to take action and prioritize the voices of caregivers and patients.

Insufficient reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, along with increased labor and medical supply costs, were cited by Steward as contributing factors to their decision to file for bankruptcy. The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans reassured patients that the filing does not mean the closure of Steward’s hospitals, medical centers, or physician groups. Coverage will still be provided at Steward facilities by member plans of the association.

In response to the bankruptcy filing, House Speaker Ronald Mariano expressed confidence in Secretary Kate Walsh and the Healey administration’s preparedness. He emphasized the legislature’s responsibility to ensure that the situation with Steward Health Care does not happen again. Mariano announced that they will soon introduce comprehensive legislation to address regulatory gaps exploited by Steward and to stabilize the healthcare system while addressing rising costs.

Governor Maura Healey and other state leaders held a press conference to address the Steward bankruptcy. They reassured Massachusetts residents that Steward hospitals will remain open and encouraged patients to keep their appointments and seek care when needed. The state Department of Public Health is actively monitoring the hospitals to ensure the highest standard of care. Healey stated that this bankruptcy filing is a step towards the goal of removing Steward from Massachusetts and ensuring steps are taken to prevent a similar situation in the future.

Local resources for patients at Steward hospitals, including a hotline and a website, have been announced by Secretary Kate Walsh. State Attorney General Andrea Campbell emphasized that any changes in Steward’s footprint in Massachusetts will still be subject to state law. At the federal level, Congressman Stephen Lynch expressed concern for patients and families relying on critical care and their anxiety about receiving life-sustaining treatment.

In conclusion, Steward Health Care’s bankruptcy filing has raised concerns about the future of their hospitals, but the company has assured the public that operations will continue as usual. State leaders are actively working to ensure access to care, protect jobs, and stabilize the healthcare system. Legislation is being prepared to address regulatory gaps and rising healthcare costs. Patients are encouraged to seek care at Steward facilities, and resources have been made available to support them during this time.

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