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St. Joseph Says No to Working for Profit; Leaves St. Mary Out in the Cold with the Poor

Pardon the title. It’s accurate, but it is referring to hospital names, not the actual saints who are patrons of those hospitals.

Over a year ago, Tom Hoopes wrote at Catholic Vote that healthcare would be the “next big Catholic identity fight.” Since that time, multiple proposed mergers involving Catholic healthcare companies have ended in no deal. The latest is Ascension Health Care Network’s attempt to buy St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s hospitals in Passaic County, New Jersey.

From NJ.com:

The deal for the largest Catholic hospital chain in the nation to acquire two Passaic County hospitals is dead.

St. Joseph’s two-hospital Healthcare System pulled the plug Thursday night on the six-month-old negotiations “based on what is best for our organization,” spokeswoman Nancy Collins said today. She declined to elaborate.

NJ.com says “she declined to elaborate,” but read on for more.

Ascension had wanted a package deal with St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s. Of course, that makes sense to any Catholic, right? St. Joseph and St. Mary go together. Also, both hospitals are sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth so…it makes sense that this would be a package deal.

When St. Josephs’ said no, that meant no for St. Mary’s, too, by attrition.

NewJersey.com reports that the Board of Trustees of St. Joseph’s Hospital said no to the merger because…(wait for it)…Ascension is for-profit.

St. Joseph’s “will not enter into a for-profit hospital alliance agreement with Ascension Health Care Network,” Nancy Collins, a St. Joseph’s spokeswoman, said in a statement. “This decision was made by the Board of Trustees of St. Joseph’s Healthcare System in a closed meeting following extensive analysis and careful consideration of all aspects of the proposed alliance.”

The decision was “based on what is best for our organization,” Collins added, in response to questions. “We remain strong and financially profitable … and are proud of our long-standing commitment to providing truly advanced leading-edge health care to the communities of Passaic County and northern New Jersey.”

Ascension maintains their company is committed to helping hospitals maintain Catholic identity.

“We are disappointed by the decision of the St. Joseph’s Board of Trustees,” said Leo Brideau, Ascension’s president and chief executive officer. “Our ultimate goal was to ensure St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s would have sufficient resources to continue providing quality patient care while maintaining their Catholic identity.” It would have been difficult to sustain St. Mary’s Hospital, which serves large numbers of uninsured and underinsured patients, without partnering it with a larger medical institution, he said.

NorthJersey.com noted that with the “no” from St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s is left out in the cold with the poor:

The finances at St. Mary’s are precarious, with less than a week’s worth of cash on hand, according to several sources. The hospital emerged from bankruptcy just two years ago, and received $9.5 million in state aid this year. One-third of its patients have no insurance or are underinsured.

So, St. Joseph says no to being bought by a company committed to preserving Catholic identity because it is “for profit” even though their decision leaves St. Mary and many uninsured and underinsured people out in the cold.

Catholics, are you crying yet? I am. I am.

Okay, so, what did the nuns say? This.

Sister Rosemary Moynihan, the sisters’ superior general, declined to comment Friday afternoon on the decision by the St. Joseph’s board and its implications for St. Mary’s.

How about now? Are you crying now?

The real St. Joseph was a carpenter who, I am sure, worked for profit in order to provide for Our Blessed Mother and Jesus.

God, save us from those who think profit is a sin.


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