Talk of Carney sale said to have caught president by surprise

News that the Caritas Carney Hospital in Dorchester could sell or close has sparked concern among legislators and health care industry leaders, who called the facility both a health care and employment provider. People who spoke with hospital president, Dan O'Leary, at this morning's Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast said he was blindsided by Boston Globe revelations that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston was considering moves to sell or shut down the fiscally struggling hospital.

The144-year-old hospital's role in the city as a less expensive alternative and provider of non-intensive care is important, said hospital supporters who predicted a battle to salvage the facility.

"It serves people that ordinarily, in the inner city, might not get served, that might be reluctant to go into downtown Boston," said state Senator Jack Hart. "So there's a relationship that people have with this hospital, almost as if it's a second home to them. We understand the financial difficulties that Carney Hospital has, but that's because of the people that they serve, and they should not be penalized that they are serving people differently than the people that the Newton-Wellesley Hospitals serve."

Sen. Richard Moore, co-chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing, said the state could play a role in aiding the Carney, examining the competitive pressures it faces and considering the use of state resources like the essential community provider fund, which he said helped keep afloat a Springfield hospital. The fund awarded the Carney $4 million earlier this month.