The New Jersey Department of Health has “high concern with respect to financial distress” at the Hoboken University Medical Center, according to a letter sent to local and state officials last week.
New Jersey Deputy Health Commissioner Robin Ford said in the October 20th letter that based on the NJDOH’s Early Warning System (EWS), the Hoboken University Medical Center is in financial distress or at risk of being in financial distress.
“At a high level, CarePoint’s HUMC is considered to be of ‘high concern’ with respect to financial distress … HUMC, consistent with CarePoint’s other two hospital sites, have been reporting data that is concerning to the Department,” Ford wrote on Friday.
She cites three things: CarePoint’s cash on hand has been “consistently low” for about a year, their operating margins are negative and have declined in the past year (down about 14.14 percent), and their days in accounts receivable remain high (average of 174.18 days).
Furthermore, Ford indicates that the HUMC has asked for an advance on all of their Charity Care subsidy payments this year, totaling $10.98 million, citing cash flow and other financial issues. Last year, the HUMC received $9.14 million from these funds.
“Since this is the second Charity Care advance request in two consecutive SFYs, the Department continues to have concerns as to CarePoint’s long-term plans for sustainability at HUMC and its other hospital sites given that it continues to experience cash flow and other financial issues,” Ford said in the letter.
She also mentions that CarePoint is out of compliance with required financial reporting that includes posting this info on their website, while she does not make any mention of the NJDOH taking any formal action in the matter.
The letter was addressed to Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Business Administrator Jason Freeman, City Clerk Jimmy Farina, and the members of the 33rd Legislative District that includes Hoboken: state Senator Brian Stack, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, and Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro.
CarePoint spokesman Phil Swibinski said that the hospital system, which also runs the Bayonne Medical Center and Christ Hospital in Jersey City, incurs “hundreds of millions of dollars” in costs for “uncompensated and undercompensated care.”
“This year the system will be providing charity care to over 50,000 uninsured patients, and unless there is significant new funding to help relieve this tremendous burden it will simply be unsustainable for CarePoint to continue providing this level of free care,” he said in a lengthy statement.
“CarePoint will keep working with Hudson County’s state legislators, elected officials and community leaders to ensure that every possible step is taken to support the critical work being done every day in these safety net hospitals. Not being able to provide care to desperate people in need would be a tragic outcome that no one should want to see, but it could become the reality if CarePoint does not receive the financial support it needs.”
He added that CarePoint’s new philanthropic arm, Just Health Foundation, and the CarePoint CAREs Community Outreach Program, will be “actively working to enhance its financial positions” through endowments, new strategic partnerships, endowments, and more.
Opening as St. Mary’s Hospital all the way back in 1863, the HUMC was in serious danger of closing back in late 2011, but then-Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her administration worked with a committee of creditors to purchase the hospital and keep it open.
In January, CarePoint Health and the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority settled a lawsuit filed in February 2022 that alleged the board shared confidential information and went beyond the scope of their authority, as HCV first reported.
The settlement gave Hoboken a seat on CarePoint’s nonprofit board, two seats on their health foundation board, and two on their advisory board.
On November 9th, two days after the non-partisan ward council races in the Mile Square City, RWJBarnabas Health, a competitor of CarePoint, is hosting a grand opening and ribbon cutting at 59 Newark St., a copy of a flyer for the event says.
“RWJBarnabas Health is bringing Hoboken residents access to convenient, comprehensive primary and specialty services, while offering continued connection to a full network of professionals and services at Jersey City Medical Center,” their website says.”