Public hearing on Jan. 31

STOUGHTON — Troubled by Steward Health Care’s decision to close New England Sinai Hospital? You have a chance to speak your mind on Wednesday.

The state requires a public hearing when the owners of “essential service” medical facilities plan to shut down. In December, the for-profit company told regulators it would close New England Sinai Hospital as of April 2. Steward has recently had difficulty paying rent, raising the specter of closings or layoffs at other Steward facilities.

New England Sinai Hospital is not a general hospital. It’s a specialty hospital for rehabilitation and acute longterm care. Steward said the 158-bed hospital has been running well below capacity since January 2022.

“On average, more than 100 beds are unoccupied each day,” a lawyer for the Dallas-based company wrote in a Jan. 3 notice to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The company blamed low public-pay rates, saying that nearly 75% of patients at Steward hospitals are on Medicare or Medicaid, federal and state programs that provide health care for poor.

“As a result of these chronic low reimbursement rates, Steward has lost $22 million from NESH operations and cannot afford to keep the facility open,” the company said in a Dec. 4 press release.

The two-story hospital, built around 1976, sits in a secluded, 27-acre campus. On a recent visit, there was little visible activity.

The company said it should have “ample time” to place patients at other facilities in the 120 days since it announced the closure on Dec. 4.

“Plans for relocation of patients were made at the outset and it was our most important consideration,” said Deborah Chiaravalloti, a spokesperson for Steward. “We have relationships with 150 skilled nursing facilities within 25 miles of NESH and are working with patients and their families to find the most appropriate placement. At the outset we called each and every family to discuss transitions of care with them to ensure that they knew we would make sure their loved one was cared for, without interruption.”

Many health care facilities are nonprofits that pay no tax. Steward, being for-profit, pays significant taxes in communities like Brockton, Taunton, Fall River and Stoughton. In Stoughton for fiscal 2024, Steward is on the hook for $395,653.90 in real estate taxes and assessments, according to public records. Steward is also a top employer in those communities.

Make your voice heard

A state-mandated public hearing about the plan to close New England Sinai Hospital will be held at the 150 York St. facility in Stoughton on Wednesday, Jan. 31, between 6-9 p.m.

Send your news tips to reporter Chris Helms by email at CHelms@enterprisenews.com or connect on X at @HelmsNews.


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