Rep. Lynch urges action from Steward leaders after visits to two 'struggling' hospitals

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch addressed the media after a visit to Norwood Hospital, a Steward-owned facility that has been under construction in recent months. The facility is currently closed. Cassidy McNeeley photo

One day after Gov. Maura Healey urged Steward Health Care's leader to transfer ownership of the system's nine hospitals- including Dorchester' Carney Hospital– Congressman Stephen F. Lynch visited two Steward-owned facilities in Norwood and Brockton to call attention to local concerns about Steward's financial crisis and the collateral damage it is causing.

“We’re here today as part of an ongoing investigation about the operational and financial conditions of Steward Health Care,” said Rep. Lynch in a press conference on the sidewalk outside of Norwood Hospital. “We’ve heard disturbing news of lavish expenses made by their CEO Ralph de la Torre, who bought a couple of yachts. Meanwhile, these hospitals are struggling.”

Lynch said he also plans to visit Carney Hospital "soon."

“I'm really interested in [Carney] since that's a fully operational hospital with acute care,” said Lynch.. “It’s taken care of a lot of people in the city of Boston. I'd like to talk to the nurses and the doctors and the staff there just to find out what their issues are.”

Asked for his reaction to Gov. Healey's demand that Steward share vital financial information by a Friday deadline, Lynch said: “I’m hoping that the state can handle this and get the answers we need but if the governor feels that she’s frustrated and cannot get satisfaction I'm happy to work as a partner with her on getting the information that we need to make these decisions.”

Rep. Lynch explained that if Carney were to change management or ownership, it's not as simple as allowing another existing hospital to take over.

“The problem is that our healthy hospitals are not that healthy. So, you've got to make sure you don't create two unhealthy hospitals by merging,” said Rep. Lynch in an interview with the Reporter. “There are some complementarities. Some hospitals do cardio, others don’t. If you can match up hospitals that complement each other that makes the whole job easier.” 

Also in attendance at the Norwood press conference were several firefighters including lifelong Norwood resident Dennis Mawn. The Norwood Hospital remains closed as a renovation project has been halted amid Steward's ongoing fiscal crisis.

Like Rep. Lynch, Mawn worries that the status of Steward hospitals will continue to impact fire and emergency departments across the state.

“The trickle-down effect of this hospital being closed is massive. It doesn’t just affect Norwood,” explained Mawn.

Now when there is an emergency in the town, residents can no longer be brought to the hospital just miles away, but rather are transported to neighboring towns, he said.

Rep. Lynch added: “With the few ambulances we have here when someone has to take a patient to Taunton that leaves this community uncovered.”

“This hospital services Westwood, Walpole, Canton, Dedham, and a lot of vibrant communities. This could be a viable hospital,” said Rep. Lynch. “Trying to find someone to come in here rescue this project, build the hospital, and then run it is a daunting task.” 

Kathy Reardon, a member of the Massachusetts Nurse Association (MNA) who currently works at Steward-owned Morton Hospital in Taunton, also worries for the staff members at the system's facilities. 

She said that when staff members have tried to communicate with Steward leaders regarding the need for more nurses and supplies the response has been “crickets.” She explained that hospitals are missing supplies “as simple as paper for a doctor to discharge a patient with prescriptions.” 

Chief physician executive of Steward Health Care Network, Joe Weinstein said Wednesday hat Steward is also concerned about the closing of hospitals but had little information to share with the public. 

“I’m a clinician, cardiology by training,” said Weinstein. “I’m not a financial expert but I’m certainly making sure that the request of Congressmen has been forwarded to Dallas for their review.”

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