As the deeply troubled Steward Health Care system faced bankruptcy hearings in a Texas courtroom on Monday, nurses and first responders gathered outside one of Steward’s nine Massachusetts hospitals to call on state lawmakers to help keep the hospital doors open.

“We gather here as a unified voice with a common purpose: to implore Governor Healey to honor the promises she made to the residents of Massachusetts,” ER nurse Audra Sprague said, standing in front of Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, where she said she’s worked for almost 17 years.

Sprague quoted comments Gov. Maura Healey made last month, pledging to protect access to care for communities that rely on the hospitals owned by Steward Health Care.

“The closure of Nashoba Valley Medical Center and any of Steward’s eight other hospitals would create a void that could not be filled in this state,” Sprague said. “It would force residents to travel long distances for basic health care and make them to go to other facilities that are already overwhelmed and have very limited bed availability. ... This puts lives at risk and will create undue hardship, especially for our most vulnerable populations.”

Steward filed for bankruptcy nearly a month ago and announced plans to sell all 30 of the hospitals it operates nationally. In a motion to the bankruptcy court, Steward asked to set a deadline of June 24 for bids on the system’s hospitals. The judge in Houston will decide if the sales can move forward on that timeline. The nurses at Monday’s protest say they’re worried a sale could result in the hospital being shuttered.

“Yes, Steward must go, but we as a state and those in charge of protecting the state have ultimate responsibility to do whatever is needed to protect this and all communities from the loss of any essential health care services,” Massachusetts Nurses Association President Katie Murphy said at Monday’s protest. “And that means the governor and her administration, the attorney general and the two leaders of our legislative body cannot be silent and must be active, pushing any and all levels of government power at their disposal to save these hospitals.”

In a written statement on Monday, a spokesperson for the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services reiterated the governor’s pledge to protect patients and caregivers.

“The Healey-Driscoll Administration is committed to preserving access to safe and high-quality care for all individuals and communities now served by Steward hospitals,” the statement said. “We are working to protect jobs for the dedicated health care providers and support staff who come to work in the Steward hospitals every day for the patients they serve, with the goal of maintaining the stability of the health care ecosystem that has long defined Massachusetts as a leader in health and medicine.”

Supporters of Nashoba Valley Medical Center have launched an online petition specifically calling on Gov. Maura Healey to take steps to save the hospital from closing.

“We have heard that the Healey Administration may be willing to let Nashoba Valley Medical Center close, sacrificing our hospital as unnecessary,” the petition reads. “We’re done with politicians putting on a show; it’s time for them to actually help us get the healthcare we need. While the Governor talks about supporting biotech, we want her to also support the hospitals that take care of thousands of people.”

The nurses say more than 200,000 Massachusetts residents are served by nine hospitals currently owned by Steward Health Care. Those hospitals include St. Elizabeth’s in Brighton, Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen and Haverhill Hospital, Morton Hospital in Taunton, Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, and St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River. Steward also owns Norwood Hospital, which closed nearly four years ago because of damage from severe flooding. Steward broke ground on a new building in November 2021.

As the hospitals work their way through the process of being sold, the bankruptcy court appointed health care management consultant Suzanne Koenig to serve as ombudsman, monitoring patient care at Steward’s facilities in Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Miami-Dade County in Florida.