EDITORIAL: Kilmartin’s Perverse Behavior

Monday, December 18, 2017


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For about the tenth time in the past few months, retirees of St. Joseph Health Services will make their way to Superior Court in Providence.

The group is comprised mostly of women — former nurses and hospital administrative staff — that dedicated their lives to healing, and serving the Catholic Church.

They dressed wounds, gave CPR, and helped with surgeries. For many that they cared for, they were saints. They saved lives.

They will take buses, carpool, and drive to get to court. They will brave the cold weather, the lack of parking, and the snowy sidewalks to sit through yet another court hearing.

Most of them are in their 60s, 70s and beyond.  Some have walkers.

On Monday, they have to come to court again. They are hoping that Judge Brian Stern will force RI's Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to comply with the subpoena and previous court orders to provide state files on the hospital mergers to the special investigator, Max Wistow.

The retirees will have to listen to legal jousting between Wistow and the attorneys from Kilmartin’s office. Kilmartin has never attended one of the hearings, nor has he spoken to the receiver Stephen Del Sesto, nor special investigator Wistow — not once in more than four months.

The retirees are facing dramatic cuts to their meager pension payments.

A GoLocal report on Saturday unveiled that Kilmartin had advanced knowledge that the pension fund of nearly 2,800 was going to collapse and be forced into receivership. The biggest pension fund collapse in RI history.

In 2014, Kilmartin had approved the sale of CharterCARE to Prospect of California and allowed that very pension fund to be “orphaned.”  Kilmartin claimed that the deal was a good one and that he and his staff did a great job reviewing the transfer of assets.

It was Kilmartin who signed off on the deal and the pension payment and structure is now in the eye of the storm. As part of the review of that deal, Kilmartin, as Attorney General, had the responsibility to review and approve the financial viability of the transaction.

The Hospital Conversion law is very specific to the responsibilities of Kilmartin and his office, stating that "the department of attorney general [is] to preserve and protect public and charitable assets in reviewing both hospital conversions which involve for-profit corporations and hospital conversions which include only not-for-profit corporations.”

At the time of the agreement in 2014, Kilmartin bragged, “The transacting parties have worked diligently to provide regulators with the necessary documentation and information throughout this review process to make this decision, a decision I believe is in the best interest of Rhode Island’s healthcare marketplace, the community, the employees, and most importantly, the patients.”

Kilmartin said in his statement, “Conducting a hospital conversion review requires the commitment of a substantial amount of resources for the Office of Attorney General. I commend my staff for the time and careful consideration put into this review process.” 

Since the collapse of the St. Joseph Health Services pension fund, Kilmartin has blocked, delayed, “slow-walked," and defied the Special Investigator, the retirees and Superior Court Judge Brian Stern.

One Would Think

One would think that when notified that a major pension fund was collapsing that the attorney general of a state would immediately contact the court and offer assistance.

One would think the Attorney General would be a leader and an ally of the receiver and special investigator.

One would expect at a minimum, the attorney general would collect all the records of the merger of the hospitals and immediately provide them to the receiver and special investigator.

Not this Attorney General. His behavior is cruel to the damaged retires. The tactics and the legal footdragging smells of more than just cover-up. There is something unseemly. It is perverse.

Now, it is up to the Court.


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