Emergency hearing set on Fatima Hospital pension insolvency

Fatima Hospital_539391

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Superior Court judge has called an emergency hearing to receive an update about the insolvent Fatima Hospital pension plan that was placed into receivership last month, shocking thousands of current and retired workers.

Stephen DelSesto, the pension plan’s court-appointed receiver, said R.I. Superior Court Associate Justice Brian Stern scheduled the emergency status conference for Friday at 2 p.m. Retirees are facing benefit cuts of up to 40% after a 2014 takeover deal that transferred ownership of Fatima left the plan effectively orphaned.

“I’m going to give the judge an update on what I’ve done so far, and going to be requesting that he approve certain procedures to move the case forward and to look into what happened,” DelSesto said.

“Putting together a status report with such short notice is not typical, but under these circumstances – with the number of people affected and the volume of information that has been out there in the public thus far – we thought it was important to have a status report to correct some of the misinformation, and to clarify the process, where it is and where it’s going,” DelSesto said.

Stern also entered an order last week allowing eligible individuals to continue filing applications to collect pensions from the plan but postponing the processing of those applications until a decision is made on the plan’s future, according to DelSesto. Applications will be processed in the order they were received when the time comes, he said.

Records show the St. Joseph’s Health Services of Rhode Island Retirement Plan – created by the Catholic diocese in 1965 and named for Fatima’s former parent company – had a funding shortfall of $14.8 million as of July 1, 2014, when it was severed from the hospital. The shortfall had grown to $43 million by last year.

Fatima and its sister hospital, Roger Williams Medical Center, were both taken over by Prospect CharterCARE in 2014. Unlike Fatima, however, Roger Williams did not have a defined-benefit pension plan, according to annual reports and a company spokesman.Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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