Caritas Christi Health Care, Boston's Catholic hospital network, has formally filed notice with the Massachusetts attorney general's office of its plans to be acquired by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm.
The deal, which the six-hospital network announced in March, must be reviewed by Attorney General Martha Coakley and then approved by the state Department of Public Health and the Supreme Judicial Court.
Today's filing includes a stewardship agreement negotiated by the Archdiocese of Boston with Cerberus and Caritas outlining how the Catholic identity of the hospitals will be maintained, and under what conditions it may be terminated. That document and the rest of the formal filing are posted on the attorney general's website at www.mass.gov/ago/caritas.
The stewardship agreement says that the hospitals must follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services set forth by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The directives provide extensive guidance about how care is to be administered according to Catholic teachings -- among other things, prioritizing care for the poor, respecting human life from conception until natural death, and forbidding certain procedures, such as abortions and vasectomies. The directives also describe how pastoral care is to be provided.
The attorney general's office said in a statement this morning that, in conjunction with the Department of Public Health, it would hold six hearings in each of the Caritas hospital communities, and that in addition to testimony the office would accept comment submitted by e-mail and regular mail. It said its review would take several months.
Coakley will review the proposed transaction based on five criteria, according to the statement: compliance with non-profit and charities law; conformance with procedural due care; appropriate management of conflict of interests; the reasonableness of compensation and whether the transaction is in the public interest.
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