JERSEY CITY AND BEYOND - Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-33rd Dist.) has joined the debate
surrounding the sale of Jersey City's Christ Hospital to a California-based for-profit hospital chain.
In July Christ Hospital officials announced that they had signed a letter of intent to sell the 381-bed nonprofit facility to Prime Healthcare Services, a for-profit company that owns and operated 14 private hospitals in California.
The New Jersey Attorney General is currently reviewing the $15.7 million sale, which Christ President and CEO Peter Kelly has said is needed to save the hospital, which loses about $800,000 each month.
Before the sale can be finalized, it must be approved by the state Attorney General, the Department of Health and Senior Services, and the State Health Planning Board.
Christ officials and attorneys for Prime have requested that the state expedite the sale and approve the deal by Dec. 31, despite mounting questions about Prime's management of its hospitals in California.
In a two-page letter sent to New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow, Ramos requests that the state not expedite the sale and asks Dow's office to consider bids from other potential buyers.
"I have serious concerns regarding the nature of the sale, the lack of transparency, the limited community involvement, and the reputation of Prime Healthcare Services," Ramos wrote in a letter dated Nov. 9. "There are reasonable alternatives to this deal, and expediting the review of this sale would not only shut out the community from public input, but leave out other equally sound deals that are in the public interest. In California, the Attorney General has denied Prime Healthcare Services twice from purchasing financially failing hospitals, citing unfair market values and failing to be
in the best interest of the public.
"California Watch, an investigative reporting group, also found that Prime Healthcare Services was inflating their Medicare reimbursements to increase profits and even cut medically necessary treatments because PHS deemed them 'unprofitable.' Cutting vital treatments and services on the grounds of profitability is not just unfathomable, but immoral. As a cancer survivor myself, I cannot allow, in good conscience, the sale of a hospital to a for-profit entity."
Christ received bids from other potential buyers, including Jersey City Medical Center, before accepting the offer from Prime. - E. Assata Wright