health care

Steward may have upper hand in bidding process for Morton

MORTON HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL CENTER in Taunton. Steward Health Care System, a for-profit company, is slated as "having the upper hand" in the bidding negotiations.
Posted 3/30/11

BOSTON – Steward Health Care System, the Boston for-profit company formed last year to run the six Caritas Christi hospitals in eastern Massachusetts, is slated as “having the upper hand” in bidding for Morton Hospital and Medical Center in Taunton, the Boston Globe reported on Wednesday, citing confidential sources briefed on the negotiations.

Steward, which is owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, has also reached a preliminary agreement to buy Saints Medical Center in Lowell.

Previously, other nonprofit hospitals, Southcoast Hospitals Group in New Bedford and Lowell General Hospital, were seen as the mostly logical buyers but both are at a disadvantage to private equity-backed Steward group.

“We’ve made them a very fair and competitive offer," said Keith Hovan, chief executive of Southcoast, which has been vying for Morton Hospital. “And we’ve made a commitment to keep their campus open. But there is this for-profit phenomenon emerging in the state.”

The Boston Globe noted the struggle of community hospitals in financial trouble weighing benefits of possible buyers: either neighboring institutions promising to maintain the nonprofit mission or investor-owned chains that can fund the needed clinical and technology investments.

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