Nurses Union Shares ‘Deep Concern’ over Steward Bankruptcy

WARREN, Ohio – Nurses at Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital have reacted with “deep concern for the patients” following the announcement Monday that Steward Health Care System has filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

The Ohio Nurses Association and American Federation of Teachers, which represent Hillside’s registered nurses, released a statement after the hospital received an email shortly before 4 a.m. Monday from Ralph de la Torre, chairman and CEO of Steward, informing them of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed in the Southern District of Texas. A first day hearing was scheduled in that court today.

The ONA release notes the role Hillside plays in providing both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services to people in the Mahoning Valley and the region who are recovering from injuries, surgeries and chronic conditions.

“While receiving this traumatic news is undoubtedly challenging, as nurses, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the wellness, care, and healing of our patients,” said De Anna Fuchilla, chair of the Hillside Registered Nurses Association, a local unit of the ONA. “Our community relies on Hillside for essential health care services, and we are committed to ensuring continued access to the care they require.”

The nurses at Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital recently signed a three-year contract with the hospital in December 2023.

“We will exhaust every avenue to safeguard these vital health care services within the community and uphold the terms of our agreement,” said Rick Lucas, president and executive director of the ONA. “Our dedicated nurses work diligently to deliver high-quality care, improving patients’ lives as they journey toward recovery. The loss of Northside Hospital in 2018 underscores the urgent need for collective action. We urge community leaders and elected officials to stand with us in supporting our nurses, health professionals and those they serve, preventing further closures and preserving essential services for the community’s well-being now and in the future.”

In the public announcement of the bankruptcy, Steward officials pledged to continue to provide necessary care to patients in their communities without disruption and noted hospitals, medical centers and physician’s offices remain open.

Additionally, the Dallas-based hospital chain had reiterated its commitment not only to the communities it serves, but to the employees. The hospital operates more than 30 hospitals in eight states, including Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital, Trumbull Regional Medical Center and Sharon Regional Medical Center in the Mahoning Valley.

Steward, which touts itself as the largest physician-led hospital operator in the U.S., has reported a debtor-in-possession financing deal is in the works with Medical Properties Trust. The deal reportedly should provide Steward with at least $75 million in initial funding and an additional $225 million if Steward meets acceptable terms with MPT.

Pictured at top: Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital’s Outpatient Services building in Warren.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.