Caritas-Ascension deal falls through

BRIGHTON — The Archdiocese of Boston announced June 28 that discussions with Ascension Health, a national Catholic health care system, about a change in sponsorship of Caritas Christi Health Care ceased without an agreement.

The archdiocese and Ascension Health said in a joint statement, “As in any negotiations of this scale, we approached this process with a clear understanding of the need for parities to reach agreement on a numerous terms in order to move forward. While we hoped to reach a definitive agreement, regrettably, after months of good faith efforts, we collectively determined that is not possible, and we have agreed not to pursue affiliation.”

Discussions between the two organizations began in February of this year. The Archdiocese of Boston, current sponsor of Caritas Christi, was seeking a new sponsor for the heath care system. Ascension Health, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, is both the largest Catholic and largest non-profit health care system in the United States.

Caritas Christi Health Care was established in 1985 and is the second largest health care system in New England. The organization’s network consists of six hospitals in Brighton, Brockton, Dorchester, Fall River, Methuen, and Norwood.

Despite poor financial performance in recent years, Caritas Christi turned a $26 million profit in fiscal year 2005. The recovery provided expanded options to the archdiocese and Caritas Christi.

The archdiocese and Caritas Christi said in a statement that they are committed to a successful future for the organization and will remain open to exploring a different affiliation.

“We remain committed to continuing the delivery of high-quality Catholic health care long into the future,” they said. “The system has enjoyed two consecutive profitable years and anticipates profitability again this year.”

Caritas Christi also announced that they will resume a search for a permanent Chief Executive Officer. John B. Chessare was appointed interim president and secretary May 25, 2006 after the previous president, Dr. Robert Haddad, resigned in the face of accusations of sexual harassment.

In a letter to the Caritas Christi community, Chessare wrote, “We remain extremely optimistic about the future of Caritas. We continue the work of transformation in clinical care and service to our patients.”