Cerberus to add two more hospitals to stable

Cerberus Capital Management isn't wasting any time adding to its collection of Massachusetts hospitals. The New York-based private equity firm, which recently completed a deal to purchase the six-hospital Caritas Christi health system in Boston for close to $900 million, agreed to buy two more Bay State hospitals for an undisclosed price via its Steward Health Care System company, the Boston Globe reports. 

Essent Healthcare of Nashville, which currently owns Haverhill-based Merrimack Valley Hospital and Ayer-based Nashoba Valley Medical Center, agreed to the deal, which still awaits approval from public health regulators. Essent, Caritas and Vanguard Health System are the only three for-profit systems in the nonprofit heavy state. 

Ralph de la Torre, the ex-Caritas and current Steward head, told the Globe that the goal is to treat patients where they live, especially in everyday situations. 

"These communities are exactly the communities we want to serve in Massachusetts," he said. "It's all about bringing care to the patients, not bringing the patients to the care." 

The additions of Merrimack, a 124-bed facility with 550 employees, and Nashoba, which has 57 beds and 530 employees, only help to boost Steward's increasing stature in the region; it already boasts 13,000 employees, according to the Globe. The staffs at both hospitals will remain in tact, as will the free care and community benefits levels for each. 

De la Torre maintains that the two facilities also will share resources with the six Caritas hospitals. 

Mark Bard, managing director of Needham-based Navigant Consulting, which advised Caritas, told the Globe he expects more, similar deals to come, especially from Steward. 

"Everyone talks about economies of scale, but in reality they're very rarely achieved," he said. "This helps [Steward] with contracting and helps them build their physician network. Whether this significantly shifts patient volume away from the local competition remains to be seen." 

To learn more:
- read the Boston Globe's article