Haverhill’s former Hale Hospital and the former Quincy City Hospital had much in common. They were both city owned, managed by the private Quorum Health Resources, drags on taxpayers and ultimately owned by Steward Health Care System.
Steward announced yesterday it will permanently close what has become Quincy Medical Center, leaving some to wonder the fate of Haverhill’s hospital.
“While Quincy Medical Center earns top quality and safety ratings, competition from Boston-area medical centers, significant cuts to Medicare reimbursements, continued Medicaid underfunding, continued rate disparity, and precipitously declining inpatient volume have made QMC unsustainable,” said Dr. Mark Girard, Steward president.
Like Quincy, Hale Hospital took on a new name when going private—first, Merrimack Valley Hospital and, just recently, Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Valley. The Haverhill hospital also no longer has its own operating license, but rather shares one with the Methuen hospital.
During the past 20 years, the Quincy hospital has faced serious financial hardships leading to city and state bailouts of more than $100 million and ultimately federal bankruptcy. Since 2011, Steward has invested an additional $100 million in the hospital, but it has operating losses of nearly $20 million a year because the overwhelming majority of patients, especially commercial patients, leave Quincy for inpatient care elsewhere, officials said. Those who do use QMC use the hospital primarily for outpatient services.
“On an average day, only 1/5 of all beds are occupied and it has become abundantly clear that local residents no longer seek inpatient services from Quincy Medical Center,” Girard said.
The Commonwealth, at the urging of state Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, frequently gives Haverhill millions of dollars to manage its Hale debt. Similarly, Quincy convinced the legislature to forgive $12 million of its hospital debt.
“While Quincy Medical Center will no longer operate, we are one hundred percent committed to delivering convenient access to health care in Quincy, with a new 24-7 emergency department, separate sited urgent care, and the ability for patients to continue seeing their personal doctors.”