The state Public Health Council on Wednesday unanimously backed the sale of the non-profit Caritas Christi hospital chain to Steward Health Care System, a subsidiary of the major private equity firm, Cerberus Capital Management.
The proposed transfer of the six hospitals attracted a crowd of about 100 to a council meeting Wednesday morning.
The transfer, endorsed last week by Attorney General Martha Coakley, had received the recommendation of the council staff, with the stipulation that new for-profit owner provide interpreter services and that the new owner continues to fund community health initiatives.
"The new owner will enable these hospitals to better serve their communities going forward," Rep. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport).
Backers of the deal said the hospitals would not have been able to survive without a new, well-resourced manager, while critics – fewer in number at the public hearing – worried about maintaining the mission of the Catholic hospitals, and about whether Steward’s for-profit business would lead to reduced care.
The hospitals run by Caritas are the Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Norwood Hospital in Norwood, St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River, and St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton.