Community Members and Advocates, Caregivers and Former Patients to Host June 20th Press Conference to Send Off a Delegation Delivering Petitions Signed by Residents of Haverhill and Ayer to the Office of Governor Maura Healey

The petitions call on the Governor, the Attorney General and other state leaders to “step up and use their resources” to save Steward-owned Holy Family Hospital in Haverhill and Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer

This event is occurring at the same time communities served by all nine hospitals impacted by the Steward crisis are seeking state and federal action to protect these vital healthcare providers and as the court overseeing the bankruptcy of Steward is set on Monday to receive bids on potential buyers of the Steward-owned hospitals in Massachusetts


Press Conference to Send Off Delegation to State House, With Statements by Advocates


Thursday, June 20, 2024 at 10 a.m.


Zins Park, located at the corner of Groveland St. and Kataris Drive, across from Holy Family Hospital in Haverhill’s emergency department.  The press conference will also be livestreamed on the MNA Facebook page at:

Additional Details of Event:  Speakers will gather at 10 a.m. to deliver remarks in Haverhill.  When concluded, a small delegation will drive to the State House.  Once at the State House, the delegation will head to the Governor’s office to deliver the petition.  Editor’s Note:  Julio Mejia, one of the organizers of the event with the Merrimack Valley Project will be at the Hooker Entrance to the State House to greet the delegation and escort them to the Governor’s office.  Interested reporters at the State House can text or call Julio at 978-601-1596 to learn the delegation’s exact time of arrival, follow the delegation to the Governor’s office and conduct interviews with participants. 

AYER, Mass., June 19, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — On Thursday, June 20th, a delegation of concerned community members, advocates, caregivers, business owners and former patients will gather at a small park near Holy Family Hospital in Haverhill to host a press conference to send off a delegation headed to the State House armed with petitions signed by residents of Haverhill and Ayer, which will be delivered to the office of Governor Maura Healey.  The strongly worded petitions highlight the importance of these facilities and “demand leadership from our state officials” and specifically call upon the “Governor, Attorney General and Legislature to step up and use their power to save our hospital.”  The full text of the Holy Family Hospital Petition can be found here; and the Nashoba Valley Medical Center petition, here

Efforts in Haverhill and Ayer Signal Effort by Communities to Rally Behind Their Hospitals

The petitions were launched by the Merrimack Valley Project, a community-based coalition of advocates in the region, who are also members of the Our Community Our Hospital coalition, compromised of residents, caregivers, health, labor and faith-based organizations throughout Eastern Mass who have  hosted a number of events in all the communities impacted by the Steward crisis, calling for concerted action by all stakeholders to ensure that none of these facilities are lost and that the state act aggressively to take whatever steps are needed to preserve these facilities for the health of the communities they serve.

The campaigns in Haverhill and Ayer took on heightened urgency in the wake of unsubstantiated reports that the hospitals serving those communities might be considered expendable should the pending bankruptcy process fail to yield a viable suitor to take over the facilities.  After a presentation by community members organized by the Merrimack Valley Project before the Haverhill City Council last month, the Council cast a unanimous vote to send a letter to the Governor highlighting the dire need to save its hospital for the care of the community, as well as the impact of its loss on neighboring facilities.  

As stated in the letter by Haverhill City Council President Thomas J. Sullivan, “Haverhill is home to almost 70,000 residents who need and deserve medical care close to home….As a community with many low-to-middle income, racially diverse residents, our population is vulnerable to poor health conditions, and we want to ensure that our residents can continue to receive the care they need and deserve locally.  Our residents should not have to defer medical care or travel further than necessary to access affordable and high quality health care.  Staff from the Haverhill campus cited one example of the importance of having a hospital in Haverhill, namely heart attack victims, in which seconds count to receive emergency medical care.  Travel time makes all the difference between life and death, especially those who suffer traumatic injuries and those with long term disease.  Holy Family Hospital receives approximately 20,000 emergency room visits per year.  Our neighboring hospitals cannot manage the volume of emergency visits as it is today.  The thought of 20,000 additional people going to area hospitals already over capacity is disturbing to say the least and unacceptable.”

In a call to action by the Governor, the City Council “implores you and your administration to do everything in your power to keep Holy Family Haverhill open,” and states that “Haverhill and surrounding communities are counting on you to do the right thing.”

The full text of the Haverhill City Council letter can be seen here. Mayor Melinda Barrett sent her own letter to the Governor with a similar message last month, which can be viewed here

The residents, advocates and caregivers in Ayer are equally concerned about the fate of their hospital, highlighted by a press conference held earlier this month when a coalition of local EMTs/firefighters and caregivers who serve and/or work at Nashoba Valley Medical Center, where they too called on leaders of our state government to do whatever is necessary to preserve this hospital, as well as eight other hospitals threatened with closure by the Steward crisis. 

The press conference was organized and will be jointly hosted by David Greenwood, President of the International Association of Firefighters Local 2544 Ayer Fire Department and Audra Sprague, RN, co-chair of the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s Local Bargaining Unit for the nurses of Nashoba Valley Medical Center. 

“This hospital closure will significantly impact the local community and area’s public safety.  Over 80 percent of the emergency medical calls transported by the Ayer Firefighters and Paramedics go to Nashoba Valley Medical Center,” Greenwood said.  “The closure of this hospital would negatively impact public safety and the general health and wellbeing of the surrounding communities.  Emergency ambulances used to transport will be out of service for longer, increasing the likelihood that someone else needing an ambulance will have to wait much longer.  Traveling longer distances to alternative hospitals that are already overcrowded serves no benefit to the community or public health.  That is why the firefighters and EMTs of the Nashoba Valley communities are speaking out to support keeping Nashoba Valley Medical Center open.”

According to Sprague, the nurses and other dedicated caregivers who provide care to patients at NVMC, many for decades, are committed to doing everything in their power to ensure the most vulnerable in their community have access to the care they need within their own community. 

“No community is expendable; no community is less important than another.  All of our communities are worth fighting for,” Sprague said.  “The hospitals’ staffs have held firm and remain inspiringly committed to meeting the health needs of our communities, and it will take all facets of state government,  Attorney General Campbell, Speaker of the House Mariano, Senate President Spilka and Governor Healey to navigate this unprecedented health care crisis, to ensure that needed resources are made available to allow these hospitals to continue providing desperately needed health care to all those affected by this crisis.”

As part of the nurses’ efforts to influence state action, the Massachusetts Nurses Association has issued a number of recommendations for specific actions the state might employ in the event some hospitals fail to attract a viable bidder at the end of the ensuing bankruptcy process including:

  • The State Government could allocate funding to facilitate deals for potential bidders, while also using its power to leverage Medical Properties Trust and Macquarie, two real estate investment trusts which hold the leases to these Massachusetts properties, to reduce onerous rents that may prevent a sale.
  • State leaders could use the state’s power to encourage the state’s other hospital operators to take responsibility for each of the nine hospitals. Right now the state is approving the addition of hundreds of beds for the state’s most expensive and profitable providers, while the other communities are threatened with the loss of all beds and services, including emergency services.
  • Greater transparency from the state is needed on all the efforts to ensure a safe future for each of the hospitals as full-service hospitals. Any changes in services currently in effect should only be implemented after a comprehensive assessment by the state that assures communities, particularly those disproportionately impacted, are not subject to further loss of health care access and that any proposed change must be made in full compliance with Massachusetts health care laws, which requires 120 days’ notice and the ability for the public to be heard. This time and process should be utilized by the State to assist other appropriate entities to assume control of the hospital and ensure services are not lost to these communities.
  • And finally, the state, in support of local municipalities, should be prepared, if there are no bidders for a given hospital, to consider the prospect of seizing the property by eminent domain and to contract with a provider to continue to operate the facility until a permanent operator is found.

More than 200,000 residents from the Merrimack Valley to the South Coast are served by nine hospitals currently owned by Steward Healthcare including: St. Elizabeth’s in Brighton, Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen and Haverhill Hospital in Haverhill, Morton Hospital in Taunton, Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, Norwood Hospital in Norwood, and St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River. These hospitals are among the largest employers in our communities, with more than 16,000 workers and caregivers, who not only safeguard care, but also contribute to the economic health of our small businesses, cities, and towns.


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SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association

Community Members and Advocates, Caregivers and Former Patients to Host June 20th Press Conference to Send Off a Delegation Delivering Petitions Signed by Residents of Haverhill and Ayer to the Office of Governor Maura Healey WeeklyReviewer

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