Bayonne officials gathered at the local medical center today to express concerns over a potential CarePoint sale to a competitor that would lead to the closure of the East 29th Street facility, costing thousands of people their jobs.
“In 2018, over 20,000 emergency visits occurred right behind us: on average that’s 74 visits a day. This hospital is absolutely needed, this ER is absolutely needed, these beds are absolutely needed,” Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti (D-31) exclaimed at a press conference on the BMC’s lawn this afternoon.
“When you look at the fantastic growth that is occurring in the City of Bayonne, under the leadership of Mayor Davis and his team, we’re going to have more people. This community is growing and we cannot afford to lose this hospital at this time.”
Mayor Jimmy Davis opened the presser by addressing persistent rumors that Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health, the owner of the Jersey City Medical Center and many other hospitals across the state, would be purchasing CarePoint Health.
According to the mayor, the new deal would lead to the closure of BMC, though he would not elaborate on the particulars of the plan, which have not been announced publicly to date.
Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise noted that he’s seen three hospitals close in his life time, St. Francis and Greenville in Jersey City, as well as the West Hudson hospital in Kearny, so it’s critical that people get ahead of this situation in Bayonne before it’s too late.
“This is going to be some really special place to live here in Bayonne and they’re taking the hospital away from us. And it’s absolutely clear that the negotiations have been going on for some time, you don’t just get here until somebody hears about it – they’ve been doing this and that is a betrayal to the people of Hudson County and to the people of Bayonne.”
During a question and answer session with the media, Davis said he first heard about the potential RBJBH acquisition on Thursday morning, declining to mention how he found out, though JCMC CEO Joe Scott told him that “no deal is imminent … but he didn’t say they weren’t discussing a deal.”
The mayor added that as the city looks into possible legal avenues in the matter, it is important to note that the state must approve any hospital sale before any timeline of events could begin to be etched out.
“From what I’ve gotten, because I’ve called the governor’s office, and they had no idea about this deal, so they weren’t even notified about it, so my understanding is that they were looking to sign the deal this week,” Davis said in response to a question from HCV.
In June 2017, the JCMC opened a Satellite Emergency Department about two blocks away from the BMC.
Although the mayor told us he didn’t think one thing had anything to with the other, he expressed that JCMC has previously expressed in interest in purchasing the BMC under the right circumstances.
” .. What I was told, from Mr. Scott, was that is Bayonne hospital ever went up for sale or was closing, that Barnabas would absolutely buy it because they need the bed space.”
While a RWJBH spokeswoman acknowledged that they had a “longstanding history of providing outstanding care to the residents of Bayonne that continues to expand,” she deferred comment to CarePoint Health – the owners of the BMC, Hoboken Medical Center and Christ Hospital in Jersey City.
CarePoint spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill referenced that partnerships were being explored, but was still in the process of being finalized and would therefore be premature to reveal any details.
“CarePoint is in the process of seeking a strategic partnership with another health system for its hospitals and we hope to announce something in the near future,” she said.
“While it’s premature at this time to share additional details, the goal has been and remains that our hospitals continue delivering excellent care to the community.”
Furthermore, New Jersey Department of Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner said that there is no certificate of need application in front of the agency regarding the BMC, one of the first steps necessary for a hospital sale.
CarePoint has quietly been downsizing since the spring, following the state Commission of Investigation revealing that their owners received $157 million in management fees between their three hospitals.
In July, healthcare union workers at the BMC called on the state to appoint a full-time financial monitor “to protect the financial stability of CarePoint hospitals.”
Health Professionals and Allied Employees Local 5185 President John Bauer was also present today and vowed to fight on behalf of his union to keep the hospital doors open.
Other elected officials who advocated for the cause included state Senator Sandra Cunningham, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (both D-31), Assemblyman Tom Giblin (D-34) – the business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers – Bayonne Councilmen Gary La Pelusa, Neil Carroll III and Sal Gullace.
The majority of the presser streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: