Monday, July 02, 2007

Sale of Caritas Christi Hospitals Cancelled: What About St. E.'s New ER?

Friday's Boston Globe reported Friday that the sale of the Catholic hospital chain Caritas Christi is now formally cancelled. This confirms the month-long suspicion following last month's notice that the physician's group at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, which is the flagship hospital in the chain, overstated its revenue by $10 million.

The obvious question, however, wasn't even posed by the Boston Globe: What does this mean for St. Elizabeth's plans to build a brand-new, state-of-the-art Emergency Room building at the corner of Washington Street and Cambridge Street?

The chain has $275 million in debt, declining patient volume, and, according to the Globe, St. E.'s "is among the worst-performing hospitals in the Boston area, according to statistics compiled by the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy."

The BRA Board approved their master plan in April, ceremonial ground-breaking took place recently, and site preparation has been underway. A comment on a previous post noted that the statue of Mary was moved a few days ago. The hillside location for the ER looks awful as of today -- "denuded," as one woman told me, "like a plucked-bare mound of Venus":

My guess is that the ER construction will go forward regardless. (St. E.'s did not respond to a request for comment on the impact.) It sounds like St. E.'s could continue to spend the chain deeper into debt with the hope of building advanced facilities that will attract more physician referrals, and hence, revenue. Let's hope they don't spend the chain into bankruptcy first.

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