New Caritas CEO announces plans for $18.2M upgrade at St. Anne's Hospital

The Herald News

The new president/CEO of Caritas Christi Health Care, of which St. Anne’s Hospital is a member, toured the hospital and met with various groups last week.

Dr. Ralph de la Torre is an established and practicing physician with dual graduate degrees from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined Caritas, the second largest health care system in New England, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he was founder, president and CEO of the innovative and successful Cardiovascular Institute and Cardiovascular Management Associates with 1,200 physicians, non-physician providers, support staff and hospital personnel.

De la Torre had good news for patients requiring general surgery and emergency care. 

He said Caritas approved allocating $18.2 million for operating room renovations and a new emergency room at St. Anne’s Hospital.

He expressed hope for a groundbreaking in the spring of 2009 for the state-of-the-art emergency and operating rooms.

“We’re currently working with doctors and the ER people,” he said. “We should have the final design in another month.”

Wendy Bauer, the hospital’s director of marketing and planning, said the emergency room has not been renovated for some time.

“This is good news for our community,” she noted. “We have to keep the ERs up-to-date.”

Also, she said the hospital will have a new look when the emergency room entrance is moved to the corner of Middle and Forest streets.

“We’ll separate the patient and ambulance entrances,” she said.

De la Tore reminded that expenses are higher since technology has greatly progressed over the past 20 years.

The Caritas Christi Health Care system has six member hospitals.

“We create a series of community hospitals to provide the most care we can to each community,” he said. “We take each community hospital and assess its needs. This all keeps with providing as much care as we can for the community.”

Bauer pointed out an ad for the Web site — — that compares the quality of local hospitals. She noted that St. Anne’s Hospital topped the list of three hospitals and Massachusetts and Rhode Island state averages for the percentages of people who received antibiotics one hour before surgery and who always received help when they wanted it.

“St. Anne’s is number one in terms of growth,” she added.

The hospital ranked first of 31 facilities across the state for discharges, length of stay and observation statistics for six months of fiscal 2008 compared to six months of fiscal 2007.

St. Anne’s medical/surgical volume growth rose from minus 4.9 percent in fiscal 2007 to 12.2 percent in fiscal 2008.     

De la Torre said the hospital began to grow in the 1990s when it joined Caritas Christi.

Two weeks ago, state Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston agreed to give up control of its financially struggling chain of six hospitals, but retain authority over moral and ethical issues. While several of the hospitals were having financial difficulties, St. Anne’s Hospital has continued to thrive.

“We’re still maintaining identity as a religious organization,” de la Torre said.   

Robert E. Guyon Jr., president of St. Anne’s Hospital, said groundbreaking for a new building to house the hospital’s expanded radiation oncology services in Dartmouth is set for June 18.

The state Department of Public Health approved the all-new, advanced linear accelerator for the delivery of radiation therapy on the campus of Hawthorn Medical Associates, 565 Faunce Corner Road, Dartmouth.

The new radiation therapy service, with technology costs of about $10 million, will occupy 18,000 square feet of a new 42,000-square-foot building to be constructed at the Faunce Corner Road location. Guyon said the project should be completed by May or June of next year.

“The two state-of-the-art linear accelerators of this type are only available in Boston right now,” he said.

Also, Guyon said the hospital’s expanded pain management service will open in Swansea in about a year.

Herald News