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Steward Health Care owes landlord, vendors millions as hospital closure rumors swirl

Steward Health Care System threatened to close its hospital in Easton, Pennsylvania, if the state wouldn't cover its liabilities and operating costs. Steward, which is owned by Cerberus Capital Management, received at least $400 million in loans. Photographer: Hannah Yoon/Bloomberg

Steward Health Care, a major player in Massachusetts healthcare, finds itself in financial distress, grappling with unpaid vendor bills exceeding $7.5 million and a hefty $50 million claim from its landlord, Medical Properties Trust. Despite mounting challenges, Steward Health Care refutes any plans of closing hospitals, but former employees share stories of supply shortages and payment delays.

The financial predicament has triggered a series of lawsuits, casting a shadow on the stability of the healthcare provider. Steward Health Care acknowledges pursuing strategic transactions, hinting at potential sales, re-tenanting of hospital operations, and shedding non-core operations to address the financial strain.

Amidst this uncertainty, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, including Senators Markey and Warren, has initiated discussions about a potential state takeover of the Steward system. This development raises concerns about possible disruptions to patients, healthcare workers, families, and communities if facilities were to close.

Zooming out to the broader impact on Massachusetts’s healthcare landscape, the closure of Steward Hospitals would have far-reaching consequences. These hospitals serve as safety nets, catering to a significant number of Medicaid and Medicare patients. Lawmakers express worry about the potential limitations on access to critical care, behavioral health services, and maternal/newborn health services in eastern Massachusetts.

Barbara Spivak, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, sheds light on the existing crisis in healthcare access. Bed capacity shortages, challenges in nursing home admissions due to staffing issues, and overcrowded emergency rooms contribute to the strain on the healthcare system.

The unfolding situation highlights the intricate connections between financial stability, healthcare accessibility, and the potential repercussions for patients and communities. Keep an eye out for ongoing developments and potential resolutions to the challenges facing Steward Health Care.

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