EDITORIAL

Diocese seeks resolution for St. Joseph pensioners

Posted:

Recently, there has been some negative press coverage concerning the pension funding of the St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island (SJHSRI). There are many generous men and women who have given their livelihood to serve in the healthcare professions. They have sacrificed their time and talents to make a difference through their work and dedication for the sick and suffering. The diocese has always had an interest in healthcare, to provide services for those who could not afford them as well as honor those who have labored to make other’s lives better. In order to provide for the people and their families who made a career working for SJHSRI, a pension plan was developed, operated, managed and funded by SJHSRI.

The Diocese of Providence is not currently, and has not been, responsible for the ownership, management and oversight of the pension funds in question, because it left the management of those funds to SJHSRI, as an independent corporation. SJHSRI was merged with Roger Williams Hospital to form CharterCARE Health Partners, which was finalized in 2011, with the new company later acquired by Prospect Medical Holdings in 2014. At that time the pension continued to be under the auspices of SJHSRI and believed to be 92 percent funded. The diocese had only been involved, in a spiritual and pastoral role, to ensure that a Catholic identity and presence continued at the hospital. With the 2014 acquisition, that involvement basically ended. Three years later, the pension was found to be severely underfunded. The diocese hopes and prays that a solution to the depleted fund can be found that respects the workers and families who depend on their pension for future expenses. Realistically, the only entity capable of improving the pension fund’s condition is Prospect Medical Holdings.