By Patrick Ronan, The Patriot Ledger
QUINCY — A city councilor wants the leadership team from Quincy Medical Center to publicly address the financial health of a hospital that has reported $16 million in losses so far this year.
But Doug Gutro’s attempt Monday to request a public appearance from the health care provider was thwarted by a colleague. Council President Michael McFarland objected to Gutro’s motion before he could speak on it, delaying the matter until the next council meeting.
After Monday’s meeting, Gutro, an at-large city councilor, said it’s important for Steward Health Care – the private, for-profit company that runs Quincy Medical Center – to address its finances publicly.
The hospital reported $10.4 million in losses during the second quarter of 2013, after losing $5.6 million in the first three months, according to the state Center for Health Information and Analysis.
“This is an opportunity for them to speak both to the Quincy city council, but more importantly to the folks of Quincy,” Gutro said.
After the meeting, McFarland provided no reason for objecting other than to say it was his parliamentary right. He said he looks forward to discussing Gutro’s resolution on Oct. 7.
“It lies on the table until the next meeting,” McFarland, an at-large councilor, said.
Gutro said he wishes McFarland had given him a reason for the objection during Monday’s public meeting.
“I’d be curious to talk through the nature of the objection other than ‘it’s my right,’” Gutro said.
In his 12 years as city councilor, Gutro said leaders from Quincy Medical Center have been called in on multiple occasions to address finances. He said the hospital’s financial woes began long before Steward bought the hospital in bankruptcy court in 2011.
Christopher Murphy, a spokesman for Steward, could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Last week, Donna Rubinate, interim president of Quincy Medical Center, said she hoped to increase revenue for the hospital by partnering with local physicians for referrals. Also, she said Steward is moving ahead with its $30 million capital plan for the hospital.
Since early 2012, Steward has made improvements to patient rooms, expanded the parking lot and constructed a new 12-bed orthopedic suite and a new rear-entrance lobby. Steward’s future plans include a 22,000 square-foot maternity ward on the sixth floor, which would bring maternity service back to the hospital for the first time since 1998.
Gutro said a public appearance from Steward would allow the company to explain whether the capital fixes will improve the hospital’s financial health.
“My sense is there are a host of people around the city that are anxious for the reaffirmation,” Gutro said.
Steward named Rubinate the hospital’s interim president in July following the resignation of Daniel Knell. Aside from its financial struggles, the hospital encountered two major controversies in the spring. In April, the nurse’s union staged a one-day strike and, in May, the hospital’s psychiatric unit for seniors closed for a week after failing a state inspection.
Steward has since reached a one-year agreement with the nurses’ union and replaced the leadership staff in the geriatric psych unit.
Patrick Ronan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @PRonan_Ledger.