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Politicians, Affiliates Rally for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Amid Ongoing Steward Financial Crisis

Protestors rally outside St Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton. Among those holding the sign are State Representative Kevin G. Honan, center left, and Boston City Councilor Edward M. Flynn, center right. Dozens rallied in support of the hospital on Monday.
Protestors rally outside St Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton. Among those holding the sign are State Representative Kevin G. Honan, center left, and Boston City Councilor Edward M. Flynn, center right. Dozens rallied in support of the hospital on Monday. By Jack R. Trapanick
By Jack R. Trapanick, Crimson Staff Writer

Dozens of politicians, nurses, residents, and other affiliates of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton gathered on Monday in support of the hospital, which faces an uncertain future amid the deep financial troubles of its owner, Steward Health Care.

The crowd chanted “our community, our hospital” and emphasized its essential role in Allston-Brighton, condemning Steward — which is currently amid a financial crisis and facing accusations of financial mismanagement — as putting St Elizabeth’s, one of the neighborhood’s two hospitals, at risk.

In an emailed statement responding to the protest, a spokeswoman for Steward wrote that “Steward has no plans to close St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.”

Nonetheless, the financial status of the company — and the possibility that it may be forced to sell St. Elizabeth’s by the time the crisis resolves — have kept many anxious over its survival.

Multiple elected officials were in attendance, including State Representative Kevin A. Honan and city councilors Edward M. Flynn, Erin J. Murphy, and Elizabeth A. “Liz” Breadon, who donned a “healthcare for people not for profit” pin.

In early 2024, the Boston Globe reported that Steward, a for-profit health care chain that owns 9 hospitals across Massachusetts — including two in Boston — was far behind on rent, raising questions and alarm over the future of its hospitals.

Since then, Massachusetts Governor Maura T. Healey ’92 and other state leaders have signaled they are working to ensure Steward’s hospitals stay open, as local officials and residents emphasize that any closures would be a “catastrophe.”

Despite the outrage from officials, the fate of Steward and its hospitals remains uncertain.

The protest — which also included several nuns and many members of health care workers unions — struck a personal tone, as elected officials and other speakers said that they, their children, or several generations of their family were born and cared for at the hospital.

Lorrayne Reiter, a lawyer for the Brazilian Worker Center who helped organize the protest, said the hospital was also a valuable resource for immigrants in the neighborhood. She said her organization depends on contacts at St Elizabeth’s to assist immigrants who don’t know English or how to navigate the American healthcare system.

“That’s why we always refer to the same hospital. Because we know that the workers who work here, they are pretty amazing,” she said.

“I can only express how I am super worried and super energetic as well, because that’s why we’re here today,” she added.

Others stressed the dedication of the hospital’s staff. “We are here in blizzards and hurricanes,” Ellen MacInnis, a longtime nurse at St. Elizabeth’s, said. “After the Marathon Bombing, we were here. The night of the shootout, we were here. All through Covid, these buildings were open.”

“We will not tolerate losing this invaluable institution from our community,” MacInnis added.

Shannon McNamara, another nurse at the hospital, emphasized the impact the uncertainty had already had on the hospital, which she said was already losing patients and staff.

“If all of a sudden, we get bought out by another place, how are we going to get those patients back once they've left and gone to another system?” McNamara asked.

McNamara, like others, criticized the state for appearing unprepared for the crisis, despite long knowing of Steward’s troubled finances.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Nurses Association called “the state’s laisez faire, deregulation of our health care system” an “abject failure.”

Now months into the crisis, many have continued to call for action and clarity from the state, though Healey said she is monitoring and discussing the crisis daily. Healey has also said she has been paying attention to Steward’s financials since at least 2017, when as state attorney general she represented a state agency suing to obtain their financial records.

“Our administration has been actively involved with all parties and considering all options to facilitate this transition and mitigate negative impacts on patients,” Healey spokesperson Karissa Hand wrote in a statement to The Crimson.

“We are also engaged in contingency planning as Steward navigates its financial challenges, and the Department of Public Health has monitors in hospitals to ensure safe conditions for patients and staff,” Hand added.

—Staff writer Jack R. Trapanick can be reached at Follow him on X @jackrtrapanick.

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