Steward Health Care System, which operates facilities in eight states including locations in the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys owes nearly $50 million in unpaid rent.

According to a press release from Medical Properties Trust Inc. (MPT), the company Steward is renting from, the company announced plans to accelerate its efforts to recover uncollected rents and outstanding loan debts from Steward, as well as processes designed to significantly reduce its exposure to Steward.

The healthcare provider owns Trumbull Regional Medical Center, Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital in Warren and Sharon Regional Medical Center. 

The debt problem stems from inflation.

”We're seeing the rise in cost in pretty much everything which would be, labor is a massive thing, drugs, supplies” Alan Condon, Editor-in-Chief at Becker's Healthcare said. 

That combined with a decline in patients since the pandemic caused the bottom line to not add up. 

Steward is the largest private, tax-paying hospital operator in the country. They own more than 30 hospitals across eight states. For some of those hospitals, Steward has only been making partially monthly rent payments since September. To try and make up the money for rent Steward secured some capital funding and sold some of their labs in Ohio and Pennsylvania to Quest Diagnostics - something other hospital giants have done recently. 

“There's no one thing they're really focusing on to really sure up finances it's kind of just being as strategic as possible looking for partnerships a lot of hospitals have unfortunately scale back services,” Condon said. 

If it's not enough for Steward they could consider selling some of its hospitals. Sharon Regional Medical Center tells 21 News they will not be effected because Steward is up to date on the city's taxes and fees. 

"Our understanding is that this is not going to impact Sharon Regional locally," Sharon City Manager Bob Fiscus said. "We value having the hospital in our city and appreciate having a vibrant healthcare system and employer for our residents and surrounding community. We'll continue to work toward strengthening ties and collaborative efforts with our local health system."

Steward has a 22 year lease plan with Medical Properties Trust. The real estate giant is expecting partial rent payments to start back up again soon with about $9 million in rent payments due before March and about $44 million due before June from Steward.