Groveland’s PFAS Water Worries Come to Pass as EPA Declares New Drinking Water Standards

What Groveland officials have been sounding the alarm about came to pass yesterday when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed new federal limits on “forever chemicals” in drinking water. As WHAV reported last month, Groveland is scrambling to identify solutions since its existing well water currently tests slightly above the limits for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Called PFAS, for short. While the town is considering options such as an estimated $22 million water treatment plant or buying water from Haverhill, Clint Richmond, conservation chair for the Massachusetts Sierra Club, made a declaration. “These costs should not be borne by ratepayers or taxpayers when the problem stems from decades of industries using these toxic forever chemicals,” he said.

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center to Honor WBZ-TV’s Mallika Marshall May 1

Josh Kraft, president of the New England Patriots Foundation, will be the keynote speaker next month when Greater Lawrence Family Health Center honors Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TV’s medical director. It’s all part of the Health Center’s 19th Annual Making a Difference Gala, the agency’s largest fundraiser benefitting 68,000 patients across the Merrimack Valley. Marshall is an Emmy-award-winning journalist and physician who has served as the HealthWatch Anchor for CBS Boston/WBZ-TV for more than 20 years. A practicing physician board certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics, she serves on staff at Harvard Medical School. She practices at Massachusetts General Hospital at the MGH Chelsea Urgent Care and formerly at the MGH Revere Health Center, where she worked on the front lines caring for patients with COVID-19.

Steward Health Care to Sell Physician Group to Optum, Pending Regulatory Approval

Steward Health Care, owner of Holy Family Hospitals in Haverhill and Methuen, said it plans to sell its physician group, Stewardship Health, to a UnitedHealth Group’s subsidiary, Minnesota-based Optum Financial. Stewardship Health is the parent of Stewardship Health Medical Group, which employs primary care physicians and other clinicians across nine states, according to the state’s Health Policy Commission. The company’s hospitals were not included in the deal. “This is a significant proposed change involving two large medical providers, both in Massachusetts and nationally, with important implications for the delivery and cost of health care across Massachusetts,” Health Policy Commission Director David Seltz said. “Details of the proposal will be reviewed by the HPC to examine potential impacts on health care costs, quality, access and equity.

Groveland Drinking Water Likely Does Not Comply with Upcoming PFAS Contamination Regs

Drinking water from Groveland wells appears unlikely to meet tightened and expanded state and federal regulations on so-called “forever chemicals” known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl—or PFAS—chemicals. Superintendent Colin Stokes, Groveland Water and Sewer Department and the Groveland Board of Water Commissioner say in a statement Groveland currently complies with six PFAS contaminant regulations with levels of 4.1075 parts per trillion at Well 1 and 4.392 parts per trillion at Well 3. However, proposed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Primary Drinking Water Regulation would add four additional PFAS compounds and drop the allowed maximum level to 4 parts per trillion. Once the new regulations are accepted by the state, officials say, Groveland is expected to take “immediate action.” The Groveland Board of Water Commissioners says it is looking at a variety of options to meet new regulations with “the least impact on residents and ratepayers.” Options include building a water treatment/filtration plant in Groveland, finding sufficient new water sources that comply with the upcoming PFAS regulations or purchasing water from a neighboring community

The new regulations are expected to be adopted by the end of 2024 or early 2025 and the deadline for compliance is not yet known.

Markey Calls on Steward CEO to Testify at U.S. Senate Subcommittee Field Hearing in Boston

Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey is asking the head of Steward Health Care to testify before a U.S. Senate subcommittee field hearing taking place in Boston. Markey, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, invited Steward Chairman and CEO Ralph de la Torre to attend and testify Wednesday, April 3, at a hearing that examines the impact of for-profit companies on health care access. Steward Health Care, which operates Holy Family Hospital in Haverhill and Methuen, has reported an inability to pay some bills as a result of, what Markey said, previously accumulated debt. Steward was previously owned by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity company that generated $800 million in profit from Steward. The request for testimony follows last Friday’s statement from Southcoast Health CEO David McCready that his organization has a “strong interest” in buy St.

Anna Jaques Hospital Grant to Link House Backs Regional Mental Health, Substance Abuse Programs

Anna Jaques Hospital recently awarded a three-year grant through its community-based Health Initiative to Link House to support mental health and substance use initiatives. The approximately $82,000 grant enables Amesbury-based Link House to implement Wellness Delivered, a comprehensive behavioral health education program. The program seeks to expand the reach of Link House’s outpatient services to low-resourced populations in Haverhill, Salisbury, Amesbury, Newburyport and Merrimac. “Anna Jaques Hospital is committed to supporting programs that positively and meaningfully improve the lives of our community members,” said Dr. Glenn Focht, president of Anna Jaques Hospital. “We are thrilled to support Link House in its efforts to assist vulnerable populations by educating individuals and addressing mental health and substance use needs throughout the region.”

“We are grateful for the chance to partner with Anna Jaques Hospital on this initiative that will allow us to get out into the community to meet with people where they live,” said Link House Executive Director Chris Turner.

With Hospital Crisis Unresolved, Leaders Call for Health Equity, Support for Lawrence General

With the crisis still unresolved at Steward Health Care, owner of Holy Family Hospitals in Haverhill and Methuen, a top community health leader urged the legislature not to let “distractions” stymie the push for major health care reforms.

Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers President Michael Curry called on lawmakers to display the “same sense of urgency that we had during COVID,” arguing that residents in communities of color continue to suffer as a result of health care disparities. “We for some reason had urgency in the pandemic that we’ve lost since the pandemic when, in fact, those same communities are dying, but it’s not COVID,” Curry told attendees at a legislative briefing yesterday. “It’s diabetes, it’s heart disease. It’s a whole list of things.”

“Saving lives is just as important today as it was three years ago,” he added. “I know we have a budget downturn, a fiscal crisis, we’ve got all kinds of distractions with potential losses of hospitals, but we do great things in difficult circumstances.

Holy Family Hospital Owner Pledges to Sell Physician Group and Private Jets as Part of Turnaround Plan

The owner of Holy Family Hospitals in Haverhill and Methuen said Friday it is seeking to sell its physician group and private jets as part of, what it calls, a “six-point action plan” to save the company. As WHAV previously reported, Friday was a state deadline for Steward Health Care to meet certain demands, including producing financial records. The company said its lenders agreed to continue to withhold taking collections action against the chain through April 30 “to give the company time to execute this plan.”

“First and foremost, we want to continue to do the right thing for patients, our staff and our communities. That is our commitment going forward. In the future, that will take a different form, but the mission remains the same,” said Dr. Michael Callum, Steward’s executive vice president for physician services and interim president of the northeast region.