Carmelite Sisters to assume sponsorship of eldercare campus in Lowell, Mass.

September 1, 2019

The Sisters of Charity of Ottawa plan to transition sponsorship of a northeastern Massachusetts eldercare campus to the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, potentially by the end of this year or by early 2020. The D'Youville Life & Wellness Community in Lowell, Mass., is to become part of the Carmelite System, though it will retain its existing boards, leadership team and philanthropic foundation structure.

The Sisters of Charity of Ottawa, also known as the Grey Nuns of the Cross, together with the D'Youville governing board, had sought out a new sponsor for the facility because the sisters' numbers have been declining, according to a public letter from D'Youville to community members.

The congregation and the board wrote that they undertook a "lengthy period" of careful deliberation and examination of potential sponsors. They selected the Germantown, N.Y.-based Carmelite Sisters because of the alignment between the two congregations' principles, values and charism, and because the Carmelite Sisters ensured that under their sponsorship the D'Youville facility would retain much independence and would not have to change the types and levels of its services.

Founded in 1960, D'Youville today includes a 208-bed skilled nursing facility, 33 short-term rehabilitation and transitional care beds, 63 independent living apartments and 60 assisted living and memory care apartments.

Under the propsed transaction structure, D'Youville would join the Carmelite System under the Carmelite Sisters' sponsorship, retain its Catholic identity and continue to adhere to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. According to information from the D'Youville website, the transaction would not be a merger, nor an acquisition, nor would money change hands.

That website says that under the Carmelite Sisters' sponsorship, "D'Youville will continue to be D'Youville" — "there will be no changes to D'Youville's workplace culture, or level of services to residents and tenants." All past, present and future charitable contributions made to the campus and its foundation would remain with D'Youville in Lowell. D'Youville President and Chief Executive Naomi Prendergast and the facility's other leaders would retain their roles and the facility's five governing boards would remain intact. (There are separate boards for the main campus, the foundation, the skilled nursing unit, the independent living unit, and planning and development.)

At least one Sister of Charity will remain on the main campus' board during a three-year transition period after the transaction closes, according to D'Youville.

The Vatican; Massachusetts' Department of Public Health, Division of Health Care Facility Licensure and Certification; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development must approve the sponsorship change. Approvals are expected to take three to six months, according to a release on the transition.

The Carmelite System includes 14 eldercare facilities in Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Dublin, Ireland. In Massachusetts, the Carmelite System has facilities in Framingham, Lenox and South Boston.

In the release on the transaction, Carmelite System President and Chief Executive Paul MacGiffert said as part of a combined organization, the system's eldercare facilities can leverage their strengths to better respond to elders' emerging needs. Prendergast, D'Youville's head, said the sponsorship transition "will bring about new and promising opportunities to enhance D'Youville's future level of services."


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