“Archdiocese set to end ownership of hospitals”
The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is getting out of the hospital business.
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley and a tight circle of archdiocese leaders have made a tentative deal to transfer ownership of the six hospitals in the Caritas Christi Health Care system, including Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, to the nation’s largest Catholic hospital chain.
An agreement with St. Louis-based Ascension Health, which operates more than 70 hospitals in 20 states, would end a long history of local hospital management by the archdiocese. It has operated St. Elizabeth’s for nearly a century and in 1985 formed the Caritas Christi system. The system grew to include Catholic hospitals from Fall River to Methuen, with 12,000 employees.
The deal, described by three people who have been briefed on the church’s plans, will bring more money and expertise to a system facing increasingly complex challenges in the Boston healthcare market. It also ensures that church prohibitions on abortion and birth-control procedures at the six hospitals will remain in place. [That’s one (negative) way to spin it. The positive way is to say that it ensure Catholic morals will be upheld.—Editor]
The church hopes to complete the deal by July 1, said one person briefed. He said Ascension will assume Caritas Christi’s debt—about $278 million as of last year, according to Moody’s Investors Service. No immediate changes in operations are expected, he said, and Ascension has no stated intentions to close any hospitals, but it will not guarantee what it might do in the future.
Divesting itself of the hospital chain allows the archdiocese to focus on core missions of evangelization and catechesis in a time of turmoil and crisis for the Church. It will also be one less massively complex bureaucracy and financial burden for the shrinking archdiocesan chancery to deal with. In a perfect world, it would be nice if the archdiocese could continue to treat the whole person, body, mind and soul, especially in an era with bioethics becoming increasingly important, but we don’t live in a perfect world.
As long as Ascension gives guarantees that it will stay true to the Catholic mission of the hospitals, I don’t see anything wrong with the deal. I’d rather see the archdiocese freed to concentrate on core missions.
Technorati Tags:archdiocese, Boston, Caritas Christi, Catholic, health care, hospital