News & Events

MNA members’ efforts rewarded—Carney to remain as acute care hospital

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
July/August 2008 Edition

Penny Connolly, RN delivers presentation at community meeting.

As a result of efforts initiated by MNA members that developed into a coalition of residents and elected officials with the sole purpose to save Carney Hospital, new Caritas Christi CEO Ralph de la Torre announced that the hospital will remain open as an acute care facility.

The future of Carney Hospital has been in question for years. Caritas commissioned a consultant, Wellspring Partners, to study the hospital’s future. In the meantime, Attorney General Martha Coakley recommended that it be shut down or turned into a psychiatric hospital. The nurses at Carney Hospital began visiting the community meetings in Dorchester and signed up hundreds of citizens to a Coalition to Save Carney Hospital. After the attorney general’s report was issued, other community groups came together to form the Coalition to Strengthen Carney Hospital. The MNA joined this coalition.

The coalition scheduled a community meeting on May 22, which was intended to be a vehicle for community members—who want their community hospital to remain open—to speak out and make their views heard by Caritas Christi. An estimated 100 people attended the meeting. Dan Driscoll from Harbor Health started it off and then had Rep. Marty Walsh and Boston City Councilor Maureen Feeney speak. Then a surprise guest was announced. It was Ralph de la Torre—the new Caritas CEO. He came to the front of the room and announced that Carney will stay open as an acute care hospital! He received a standing ovation. The crowd, especially the seniors, were thrilled.

The Wellspring consultant’s report was released simultaneously by Caritas and can be found on However, de la Torre stated that regardless of the report’s findings he was determined to keep Carney open before he even took the job as CEO. He met with Cardinal Seán O’Malley at the beginning of May and got his agreement to keep the hospital open.

De la Torre said his priority was to get the funds to rebuild the hospital’s infrastructure. He also is focusing on bringing in new doctors, in particular specialists. In addition, he will work to change the compensation structure so that a doctor doing a procedure at Carney (or any Caritas hospital) will get the same reimbursement as he or she would performing the procedure at another facility. He also said Caritas would provide funds to “supplement” the hospital and that they weren’t trying to make a profit from Carney. He said there would be no more layoffs.

All of the legislators are committed to getting at least $4 million dollars from the state this year. According to de la Torre this money would be used to improve infrastructure.

“We are thrilled that all our efforts resulted in the ultimate goal of keeping this vital community hospital open as an acute care facility,” said Penny Connolly, RN, negotiating committee member at Carney Hospital and a member of the Dorchester community. “The nurses at Carney Hospital and the people of Dorchester and surrounding communities can breathe a sigh of relief because of their hard work and commitment.”