The Diocese of Camden announced Thursday that it had reached a $40 million agreement to sell its four nursing and elder-care facilities.
The sale to the Catholic Health Group division of Center Management Group has been authorized by the Vatican and is pending regulatory approval. It would end more than six decades of hands-on care by the diocese.
The deal includes three nursing homes - St. Mary's Catholic Home in Cherry Hill, Our Lady's MultiCare Center in Pleasantville, and Bishop McCarthy Residence in Vineland - and a residential health-care facility, the Manor at St. Mary's in Cherry Hill.
The diocese put the facilities up for sale in August 2014, saying it could no longer afford to maintain them. Losses, partly due to the way the government compensates nursing-home services, have reached $8 million, officials say.
"Both ongoing and anticipated financial difficulties, along with future projected deficits, cannot be sustained by the diocese," Deacon Gerard Jablonowski, director of home and parish-based services for the diocese, said in a statement.
An expert advisory committee recommended seeking a buyer that would maintain the homes' Catholic identity, and retain the 578 residents and the more than 750 employees who serve them.
Under a 50-year stewardship agreement with the buyer, Catholic traditions and teachings will continue, and Mass will be offered on a regular basis at the facilities, Jablonowski said. The residents and staff also will remain, he said.
"There will be no perceptible change in operations for residents after this transaction is finalized," Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan said.
The diocese received about 10 bids, and selected Center because of its record operating other Catholic nursing homes, Jablonowski said.
Center, based in New York City, owns and operates nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in North Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Last year, it acquired nursing and personal-care facilities previously operated by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Proceeds from the homes' sales will be used to provide additional programs for the elderly, disabled, and needy. They include parish-based day-care programs for seniors.
Jablonowski estimated that the diocese would be able to provide services to thousands more through community-based programs. "These are charitable services open to everyone," he said Thursday.
The diocese, which was created in 1937 and has about 475,000 members in Camden, Gloucester, Atlantic, Cumberland, Salem, and Cape May Counties, opened St. Mary's Home in 1952.
It purchased the facility that became Our Lady's MultiCare Center in 1966, created the McCarthy Residence in 1975, and added the Manor in 1991.