Steps taken toward Hoboken hospital being sold
The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority board met Wednesday and took a step – according to City Hall – to look for new buyers for Hoboken’s only hospital.
The city made a point of saying that the step will ensure that Hoboken continues to have an acute care hospital in its borders.
“An ad hoc committee comprised of a diverse group of individuals that represent a broad base of interested constituents, including commissioners, physicians, and hospital staff, is being formed to review the submissions,” said city spokesman Juan Melli.
The hospital has suffered from the same financial issues that other hospitals have across the country, including dealing with inadequate reimbursement from insurance companies and from state Charity Care funds. Hoboken’s hospital especially deals with many uninsured patients.
Some hospitals, such as Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus, are in the process of being sold to private investors rather than remaining in public or non-profit hands.
In Hoboken, taxpayers have been concerned about the hospital’s financial status, because the hospital has remained open partly with city bond funds.
“I congratulate the commissioners for moving us towards the shared goal of ensuring that the hospital remains in Hoboken as a thriving acute care facility that provides valuable services and jobs to our community,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer, an ex officio commissioner, on Friday. “Privatization will bring us one step closer to stabilizing our hospital’s finances and removing Hoboken taxpayers from the $52 million bond guarantee.”
On Thursday, a new and expanded Senior Treatment & Evaluation Program (STEP) Unit opened to provide integrated behavioral health care to meet the psychiatric and medical needs of seniors (see Reporter health section).
“The physicians, employees and management team of Hoboken UMC have worked hard not only to provide quality care but also to increase the value of the hospital,” said hospital CEO Spiros Hatiras. “We appreciate the support of Mayor Zimmer and the Authority members as we pursue our common goal of maintaining an acute care hospital in Hoboken.”
Mayor Zimmer is soliciting resumes from Hoboken residents interested in filling a recently-vacated unpaid spot on the seven-member Board of Commissioners for the hospital. Applications are available from the City Clerk’s office at (201) 420-2070 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police to host National Night Out events Tuesday
On Tuesday, Aug. 3, the Hoboken Police Community Policing Unit will host National Night Out. In the nationwide event, the police and public join together in a night of festivities, out on city streets, to encourage crime prevention techniques, speak out against crime and violence, and show the unity of the police and residents working together to make safer communities.
For the second year in a row, an event will be held in the Hoboken Housing Authority Properties on Harrison Street from Second to Fourth streets. Last year over 1,000 residents attended. The event is held from 5 to 9 p.m.
This year’s event coordinators, Sgt. James Marnell, Officer James Barbro, and Officer William Oquendo, have put together a lineup of guests and attractions. Featured events include: the Hoboken Police Department doing bike safety, giving free helmets to kids and registering bikes for residents of all ages, giving out many National Night Out gifts, and doing a “don’t drink and drive” demonstration with the use of special DWI goggles. The Hoboken Police Athletic League (P.A.L.) will also attend.
The Hoboken Fire Department will perform a Jaws of Life demonstration, and they will have giveaways for the children.
Other law enforcement agencies and officials will attend, as well as representatives from ADT, State Farm, the NY/NJ Red Bulls, and guests from Carlo’s Bakery and the television show “Cake Boss.”
Also expected: two DJs, blow up rides for kids, cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, hot dogs, hamburgers, and beverages.
Local bloggers debate Hoboken board appointments
Normally, the vocal bloggers in Hoboken who tend to support Mayor Dawn Zimmer agree with each other on most of the local political issues of the day. But today is a different day.
At a City Council meeting two weeks ago, the council voted Zoning Board Chairman Tony Soares onto a seat on the North Hudson Sewerage Authority board, replacing Michael Schaffer, who was arrested as part of the FBI corruption busts last year.
While the council majority voted in favor of putting Soares on the sewerage board, Zimmer herself said later that she was against the move, as it is a long-held “reformer” principle that someone shouldn’t accumulate too many power positions. So do Soares’ two seats violate such reform principles?
Apparently, the issue set off a little dissention among political activists. Three bloggers who often support Zimmer traded barbs over the issue.
One blogger, TheHobokenJournal.blogspot.com, commented: “Tony specifically attacked me and my site for potentially damaging Mike Lenz’s campaign when his vitriol and his greed for more than one position have the potential to do more harm to Lenz’s campaign then any of my Jib Jab videos.”
Meanwhile, Councilman Lenz, for his part, wrote a letter on two blogs defending his vote for Soares and noting, “I was aware that the appointment included a small stipend and believed at the time that it included health benefits as well...While I disagree with those who believe that individuals should not be permitted to serve on more than one board, I recognize that this is a genuine issue deserving of an open and honest debate. With 20/20 hindsight, I also recognize that the events of last Wednesday have raised an appearance issue that is troubling to many of my friends and supporters.”
A breaking news item on the Reporter’s website summed up the debate and received comments from the public. To read it and comment, go to www.hudsonreporter.com and check the right-hand column for “Most commented” stories.
Schools superintendents may face pay cap
As part of his 33-bill “tool kit,” Gov. Christopher Christie is proposing a cap on salaries for superintendents of schools in New Jersey based on enrollment, which could affect almost every superintendent in Hudson County.
The proposal would establish a $175,000 cap for superintendents in districts with 3,001 to 10,000 students and a $150,000 cap for fewer. There would be no cap for superintendents of districts with more than 10,000 pupils.
The move would not affect Jersey City and Union City because Union City has just over 10,000 students and Jersey City has more than double that amount.
The move also would not immediately affect West New York, because new Superintendent John Fauta just received a five-year contract, and Christie’s proposal will affect any future contracts received, not current ones. Fauta’s contract is for $219,000 per year.
The superintendents of Guttenberg, Weehawken, and the Hudson County Schools of Technology would be held to the $150,000 cap, as those districts have fewer than 1,500 students.
Volunteers sought to help foster care children
Hudson County CASA is currently recruiting volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children. CASA (court appointed special advocate) works through trained community volunteers to insure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes.
CASA and its volunteers speak for children in court, serve as fact finders for the judges and safeguard the interests of the children while they are in the foster care system.
Information sessions regarding the program and the role of its volunteers will be held on Aug. 10 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Room 901 of the Hudson County Administration Building at 595 Newark Ave. in Jersey City.
Hudson County has over 750 children in foster care; most have been removed from their homes for abuse or neglect. For further information, please call (201) 795-9855, e-mail email@example.com or visit our website at www.hudsoncountycasa.org.