For the owners of Bayonne Medical Center, the five-year mark also signifies a right of passage, not only recovery from near death, but also for taking the next step towards what could be a whole new life as a healthcare system.
In an array of red and white balloons, crimson-colored sweets and a host of cookies, cakes, and fruits, dignitaries gathered in the Bayonne Medical Center cafeteria on Feb. 1 to mark the exact day five years later when the hospital regained its health under new management, and began slow steady progress towards a new future few could have imagined possible in 2008.
Jeff Mandler said with the acquisition of two additional hospitals, Hoboken University Medical Center in Hoboken and Christ Hospital in Jersey City, the next step will be to establish a health care system.
Dr. Mark Spektor, dressed in his blue garb complete with stethoscope, said he has been at the hospital only three-and-a-half years, but that the hospital has come a long way.
“It was only hours from closing its doors and ceasing to exist. This is a true asset for Hudson County,” he said, citing the participating of the employees and the dedication of management. “I’m very glad to work with the owners and principles of this hospital.”
Until the sale in early 2008, the 278-room hospital was losing money at such an alarming rate that many people believed it would not survive, despite going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year earlier.
Jim Lawler, then of JPL Healthcare Consulting, conducted the independent analysis of the hospital’s condition just prior to its sale showing that the hospital lost $6 million in 2006, adding to the more than $12 million in revenue shortfalls from previous years. His report showed that the hospital had not been collecting the revenue it should have, and business practices seemed out of step as well.
All this changed when IJKG, LLC, took ownership on Feb. 1, 2008, and Mandler said equipment has been updated, admissions have increased. The hospital has established new cardiovascular and radiation units, and clinics to deal with charity and uninsured patients.
Spektor said the event also honored Daniel Kane, who served as executive director before and after the sale, guiding the facility through its recovery. Spektor said many of the employees have been with the hospital for decades and that he appreciated their efforts.
Lawler echoed this gratitude towards the employees. “We appreciate all your hard work,” he said. “We built a strong institution; we look forwards to another 50 years.”
Mandler said the owners are in the process of building a health system for Hudson County.
“With the three hospitals, we’re planning to build a great health system for Hudson County to supply superior care for people in the county and we will continue to work on that,” he said.
Lawler said some people have to leave the county for services.
“We would like to provide those services right here in Hudson County.
“A lot of things we’ve done in the community,” Mandler said. “We have to listen to the community and follow up on their needs.”
“The community has supported us throughout and want to do the same,” Lawler said.
“This is a different hospital than it was five years ago,” Spektor said. “It has the same name, but in terms of the commitment and the investment, the quality and the engagement of the staff, this is a different institution.”
“It was only hours from closing its doors and ceasing to exist.” – Dr. Mark Spektor
Spektor said investment of money and expertise has made a huge difference in the quality of care.
“Many of the employees are the same employees, but they never had the resources before,” he said. “When a hospital is going through a bankruptcy it is like going through a death spiral. People are cutting corners, there is no quality program, there is no educational program, no educators. There is no equipment.”
Spektor said he is always learning and is involved in the day to day operations.
“How do you know what’s going on if you’re not involved?” he asked. “I have to be in the trenches to know how things are working or not working.”
He said by his day-to-day contact with patients, staff and others, he gets to see what is going on the hospital and propose changes that would meet the hospital’s needs.
“We’re always leaning things and that’s never going to change. And we’re looking forward to being part of a healthcare system which is the next step. Because we recognize that stand alone hospitals are not the way to go. It is the integration of care, the patient gets the same level of care and same evidence based treatment regardless of the setting they are in.”
This means whether the patient is in a hospital or a doctor’s office, outpatient or in patient and the only way to do that is to integrate these services.”
BMC has already taken a huge step towards that with its establishing of electronic records, which allows doctors to access information regardless of where they are, and thus to avoid redoing tests and wasting time and energy asking for information the hospital already has on file.
“That’s our next big step, real, meaningful integration,” he said. “That means care will not be fragmented and will be higher quality care. It will be more efficient and cost less, and still be higher quality.”
Electronic records allow doctors to transfer information from one setting to the next much more efficiently than in the past when much of this was done via fax machine.
All the hospitals will be on the same platform, drawing from a master patient’s index, Spektor said, so that any doctor in the system will know if the patient has been admitted to one of the other hospitals, what tests were done, what treatment administered.
“When a patient comes in, comes into my ER, I have all their medical records, I don’t have to torture them with questions do they have this or that, I already know what their problems are. I can be much more accurate in my diagnosis.”
Three hospitals and primary care offices will form the basis of the new healthcare network, Spektor said.
“As well as an insurance product,” he said. “We are building a clinically integrated system and we’ll soon have a public announcement about what that means.”