Jersey City City Hall hosted “a really productive meeting” between stakeholders for Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health and CarePoint Health, as well as local elected leaders, reopening the door for Christ Hospital to be purchased and stay open, Mayor Steven Fulop said.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The meeting was productive in that we walked away with actionable steps and we’re all at the table moving in a productive direction,” Fulop said over the phone this afternoon.
While Gov. Phil Murphy (D) oversaw a New Jersey Department of Health appointment of a monitor for Christ Hospital after the mayor urged him to get involved, concerns about Christ Hospital declaring bankruptcy began to emerge last week.
Since then, officials on the local, county, and state level have called meetings to try and navigate the volatile situation, including the one in Jersey City today.
Yesterday, all nine Hudson County legislators, their three state senators and six assembly members, wrote a letter to Murphy calling for a criminal investigation into the owners of CarePoint, as HCV first reported.
They also emphasized that Christ Hospital and the Bayonne Medical Center are on the verge of declaring bankruptcy, as well as that the BMC and Hoboken University Medical Center should receive their own respective state monitors.
“I’m appreciative to our Hudson County legislators, as well as Governor Murphy and the Department of Health for recognizing the critical importance of continued health care for our region,” Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a statement.
“We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure Hudson County’s hospitals remain open and accessible for residents.”
Despite the situation appearing to be heading to the dire straits as recently as last night, another source familiar with the ongoing negotiations said that today’s meeting was a very positive step forward.
“At least they’re talking talking again. There’s dialogue. They’re far apart on certain concepts, particularly on the real estate, but we’re still within striking distance of the deal. Emotions and egos cloud good business judgment,” the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, explained.
A major sticking point involves Avery Eisenreich, a 25 percent owner in Christ Hospital who also owns Alaris Health and the properties that the HUMC and BMC sit on.
He is embroiled in bitter ligation with CarePoint alleging he interfered with their attempts to sell Christ Hospital and the HUMC in order to eventually purchase the BMC and convert it into a nursing home.
Eric Bloom, a spokesman for CarePoint, said they made “a fair and reasonable” offer for RWJBH to acquire Christ Hospital.
“CarePoint Health appreciates the efforts by the mayors and state lawmakers to call all parties together to seek a solution. We made a fair and reasonable proposal today to RWJBH on the Christ Hospital property,” he said in a statement.
“RWJBH informed all parties that it needs some time to consider the proposal. We look forward to hearing back. And we will continue to negotiate with good faith. Our priorities remain our patients, employees, physicians and community.”
RWJBH did not immediately return a request seeking comment.
State Senator Brian Stack (D-33), Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, as well as Assembly members Raj Mukherji (D-31) and Angela McKnight (D-31), also sat in on today’s meeting.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from CarePoint Health and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla.