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Gov. Healey sends letter to Steward Health Care CEO saying ‘time has come’ to transfer its hospitals

BOSTON — Steward Health Care’s CEO is being called out by Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey to transfer their hospitals to new operators ‘as soon as possible’ for lack of financial transparency when it comes to their ownership.

In a letter sent to Ralph de la Torre on Monday, Governor Healey accuses the embattled CEO of putting profits over patient care, which she claims has hindered the state’s ability to protect access to healthcare.

The governor demanded Steward provide the state with information about its finances — which all hospitals by law are required to submit to regulators — by the close of business on Friday. She also called on the system to properly staff and supply all of its Massachusetts facilities, comply with increased on-site state monitoring, and allow someone else to take over its seven hospitals in the Bay State.

“The time has come to move past our many months of discussions and begin executing a safe, orderly transition of your seven licensed facilities in Massachusetts to new operators as soon as possible,” Healey wrote. “This begins with your commitment to fully disclose the financial information we have requested by close of business on February 23, 2024. Your continued refusal to do so, particularly at this moment, is irresponsible and an affront to the patients, workers, and communities that the Steward hospitals serve. It also leads to a further breakdown in trust and creates a major roadblock to our ability to work together to resolve this effectively.”

In a statement, Steward responded to Gov. Healey’s letter saying, “For more than a decade, Steward hospitals have served as a key healthcare provider to some of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable citizens and communities. As such, we have been working closely with state officials – including providing extensive financial records as requested as well as on-site monitors and cooperation with the Department of Public Health and others.”

Earlier this month, Steward announced they agreed to terms of a “significant financial transaction” that will help keep its Massachusetts hospitals open and allow the company time to consider transferring some of its medical centers to other companies.

The announcement came amid a financial crisis where the hospital chain was reportedly $50 million behind on rent.

“In late 2023 and early 2024, Steward gave regulators in the Commonwealth the audited financial documentation they had requested and is continuing to cooperate closely,” a Steward spokesperson said Tuesday. “We look forward to working cooperatively with the Governor on a solution we all agree must be found to guarantee continuity of care for more than one million patients in the vulnerable communities we serve throughout the Commonwealth.”

A copy of Healey’s letter to de la Torre can be viewed here:

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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