IMPACT: Hudson hospitals learn to adapt to a changing health care market

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Jersey City Medical Center is the county's designated trauma center.
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Hudson Regional is rebranding
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Bayonne Medical Center was the first facility acquired by CarePoint Health.
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Hoboken's former St. Mary's hospital was renamed by CarePoint Health as Hoboken University Medical Center.
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Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center (HMHP) on River Road in North Bergen was previously known as Palisades Medical Center.
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  1 / 5 
Jersey City Medical Center is the county's designated trauma center.
  2 / 5 
Hudson Regional is rebranding
  3 / 5 
Bayonne Medical Center was the first facility acquired by CarePoint Health.
  4 / 5 
Hoboken's former St. Mary's hospital was renamed by CarePoint Health as Hoboken University Medical Center.
  5 / 5 
Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center (HMHP) on River Road in North Bergen was previously known as Palisades Medical Center.

For Hudson County hospitals, survival in the current market means adapting to new conditions, not just expanding but focusing on the inpatient and out-patient services that are most needed, and forging relationships with regional medical and educational institutions.

Hudson County is served by four hospital networks: RWJ Barnabas Health Jersey City Medical Center and its newly-established smaller facilities; CarePoint Health, operating three hospitals and numerous affiliated medical practices; Hackensack Meridian Health/Palisades Medical Center (formerly Palisades Medical Center) in North Bergen, and Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus.

Each of these networks has its own particular focus and vision of healthcare.

RWJ Barnabas Health Jersey City Medical Center

Jersey City Medical Center’s long history dates back to 1882. Its many incarnations and name changes culminated in an advantageous association in the spring of 2014 when Jersey City Medical Center became a Barnabas facility.

JCMC is a 316-bed not-for-profit teaching hospital and a state-designated Regional Trauma Center. It has received the highest-grade level “A” for safety for 14 reporting periods between 2012 and 2018. It’s a state-designated stroke center and a regional comprehensive cardiac center. A provider of Advanced Life Support for Hudson County, JCMC runs 911 Medical call screening for the county, and its behavioral health program provides 24/7 psychiatric emergency/crisis screening services.

In 2017, the hospital was designated the Magnet Certification for Nursing Excellence for the third consecutive year.

Its main campus is on Grand Street, steps away from the Jersey Avenue light rail stop. Its upper floors offer restful views of Liberty Landing marina with its many sailboat masts, Liberty State Park, and, in the distance, the Statue of Liberty herself.

It’s three girls and two boys!

Jersey City Medical Center is a perinatal intensive care center, and a regional level 3 neonatal intensive care unit. This expertise really came in handy on January 6, 2019, when the hospital successfully delivered quintuplets, which is very rare and a first for Hudson County.

A team of more than 50 experts delivered the three healthy girls and two boys. The multidisciplinary team included obstetricians, anesthesiologists, neonatologists, nursing staff, respiratory therapists, and cardiologists. Ten experts were assigned to each baby.

“Jersey City Medical Center is patient centered and quality driven,” said Michael Prilutsky, president and chief executive officer of JCMC.  “We are proud to have the expertise and technology necessary for comprehensive maternity care to manage all patients, ranging from uncomplicated pregnancies, deliveries and newborn conditions to the most challenging and high-risk.”

The mother lode

Fast on the heels of the spectacular quintuplet delivery came a gift for new mothers, and not just those who give birth to all their children on the same day. In February of 2019, JCMC received a $1 million donation from the money management firm Lord Abbett for a new maternity wing.

The state-of-the-art facility, The Lord Abbett Maternity Wing, which will have 20 private rooms designed to promote bonding, is expected to be completed later this year.

“Our vision is to create an environment where every woman who delivers at our hospital will have a private room where she can heal after giving birth, bond with her newborn and immediate family, and spend time together with her extended family,” said Lance Bruck, vice president and chairman of JCMC’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health.

Other improvements include advances in ambulatory surgery as well as new endoscopy equipment that will ease the dreaded colonoscopy experience.

A recent agreement with Rutgers University is expected to widen the hospital’s scope. “We will become a teaching facility and will have access to their doctors, teachers, and students,” Prilutsky said. “Rutgers is also tied to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. One of our prime goals is to provide the same level of cancer treatment here in Hudson County as you can get in New York City.”

Looking ahead to 2020, a new system will connect the clinical to the clerical, streamlining the complex but all-important function of medical recordkeeping.

Satellite centers

While JCMS is expanding its main campus to include larger emergency and operating rooms, it’s also branching out. In April, Jersey City Medical Center-RWJ Barnabas Health added a new primary care hub, Pavonia Primary Care conveniently located at 600 Pavonia Avenue in Journal Square.

Four primary care physicians are certified in a number of specialties and will offer annual exams, lab testing, immunizations, vaccinations, and education in healthy lifestyles, referring patients to specialists when needed.

“Good health begins with primary care,” Prilutsky said. “The opening of our newest hub will help foster relationships between primary care physicians and the residents of Jersey City and its neighboring towns while also providing access to the numerous specialists affiliated with Jersey City Medical center and the RWJBH system through the Barnabas Health Medical Group.”

Other expansions include Jersey City Medical Center at Greenville on Kennedy Boulevard, which will have a new pharmacy, and RWJBarnabas Health at Bayonne on Broadway offers a wide range of emergency services. Expansions are planned for sites in Jersey City Heights and on the waterfront, where JCMC has recently rented property.

The hospital is also cementing relationships with federally-qualified operations such as the North Hudson Community Action site on Palisade Avenue and Metropolitan Healthcare on Garfield.

“We’re going to provide access to primary healthcare in a big way,” Prilutsky said.

Safety first

In May, Jersey City Medical Center joined seven other RWJBarnabas Health facilities in being awarded an “A” Hospital Safety Score by the Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits. This is JCMC’s 14th A rating.

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, from A through F, provides an easy way for consumers to select the safest hospitals for themselves and their loved ones.

“This recognition is a testament to the tremendous team efforts of our entire staff, who work together to deliver our patients premier care,” said Prilutsky, whose “pillars of medical care” include safety and quality. JCMC has had zero mortality in its cardiac medicine practice and has been certified as a center of excellence for its hip and knee practices. The facility is also working to reduce re-admissions.

These successes draw top-notch medical practitioners. In May, RWJBarnabas Health was named by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the 150 top places to work in healthcare.

In June, meanwhile, New Jersey City University honored four Impact Makers as part of its Jersey City Leadership Awards program. Joseph F. Scott, executive vice president, health care transformation for RWJBarnabas Health, won the award for Innovation. He was recognized for his “visionary leadership” in transforming and growing the facility in the areas of quality service, diversity, patient safety, and community outreach.

And speaking of community outreach

JCMC offers a host of community events, including support groups for cancer, diabetes, joint replacement, medications, caregivers, and cardiac patients. Classes include those for prenatal child birth, breastfeeding, nutrition, CPR, and job training.  JCMC offers tours of various departments at the center, as well as bingo and health fairs.

The facility is also working with the city to provide wraparound services for seniors, such as nutrition education and screenings.

Prilutsky said the hospital is deeply involved in consumer engagement, believing that the better informed the patients, the better their outcomes.

CarePoint Health

CarePoint Health, a for-profit, operates Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC), Bayonne Medical Center, and Christ Hospital in Jersey City, and numerous affiliated neighborhood health centers.

This last year, CarePoint Health appointed a new CEO, Dr. Natasha Deckmann.

CarePont Health Medical Group offers a full range of physicians from OB/GYN and pediatric to geriatric, and palliative care with a variety of specialties.

CarePoint recently implemented new technologies such as telemedicine for follow up ED visits and artificial intelligence for stroke detection.

CarePoint’s Christ Hospital and HUMC Medical Center provide robotic surgery and this year achieved the first same-day hip replacement procedure. Robotic surgery is conducted at Christ Hospital and HUMC. It is used to perform a variety of surgeries. Recently, Christ Hospital announced its 1,000th robotic surgery.

CarePoint has also instituted 3D mammograms for its patients, allowing clinicians to see all around and between the breast tissues enabling accurate analysis and detection of possible abnormalities, allowing for earlier treatment of cancer.

The emergency rooms in all three hospitals now use artificial intelligence for stroke detection.

Last year, CarePoint unveiled Impella surgery at Christ Hospital, a minimally invasive cardiac procedure employing the world’s smallest heart pump.

HUMC has Family Birth Units that include private rooms and a wide range of amenities supporting women and their families during childbirth. The Institute for Women’s Health at HUMC offers services from various providers with unique expertise in the treatment of endometriosis, pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, post-pregnancy pelvic problems, infertility and more.

The Anaka Prakash Endoscopy Unit of Bayonne Medical Center has been recognized for delivering high-quality patient care by the American Society of Gastroenterology.

BMC is the only hyperbaric wound care center offers patients complex wound care services for both the local community as well as the county.

BMC also operates a Radiation Oncology Center, treating a variety of cancers using advanced technology.

Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center

Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center (HMHP) on River Road in North Bergen was previously known as Palisades Medical Center. It is a 202-bed hospital affiliated with the Hackensack Meridian Health Network and the Harborage, a 247-bed nursing home and rehabilitation center.

HMHP is part of a network of 17 hospitals, including academic medical centers, children’s hospitals and community hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, and a behavioral health hospital, and numerous patient care sites and physician offices.

In January, John C. Meditz, a lifelong resident of Hudson County, donated $10 million to enhance and expanding the Palisades Medical Center Emergency Department. Meditz’s contribution is the largest gift in the history of Palisades Medical Center.

Earlier this year, Hackensack Meridian received an Environmental Excellence Award, the most prestigious environmental achievement for health care.

HMHPC also opened a multi-specialty office suite and breast center on waterfront this year.

Over the last several years, Hackensack Meridian as been seeking to upgrade its nursing staff status and to expand its community outreach program. Recently its nursing staff received Magnet recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. In April, HMHP hired Professional Research Consultants of Omaha, Nebraska to conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment. The project consists of gathering information about the health status of area residents through a telephone survey, the result of which will be combined into a Community Report, due to be published by the end of 2019.

Hudson Regional Hospital (formerly Meadowlands)

Hudson Regional Hospital has undergone massive changes since being taken over by new management early in 2018. Some of the changes are obvious, such as a new front desk, the opening of a robotic surgery center, and improvements in waiting areas that include a new café.

But many of the changes, according Chief Executive Officer Dr. Nizar Kifaieh, are less obvious than these cosmetic changes to rebrand the Secaucus-based hospital that most officials in 2017 thought of as struggling.

“We knew we needed to do a face lift,” Kifaieh said. “This includes investments in the lobby, and creating a cozy atmosphere.”

He said the idea is to reshape the public perception of the hospital, and by providing the obvious changes, people will have confidence in the more expanded services as well

Many of the changes include expansion of OGBYN services, spine surgery and orthopedic, and an effort to bring back physicians who left under the previous management, and to attract new talent from the region to practice medicine here.

“This is providing us with higher skill in surgery and other areas,” he said.

The hospital was purchased in January 2018 by real-estate developer Yan Moshe, owner of Excel Surgery Center in Hackensack, with the promise to maintain the hospital as an acute care facility. He is expected to invest at least $3 million in upgrades within the first five years.

Much of that investment has already transpired with the addition of such programs as DaVinci Robotic Surgery, two new bariatric programs, and additions to children’s medicine.

The hospital has also added 3D mammography machine as part of its women’s services.

“We do a lot of spine surgery,” he said.

The hospital has also established a wound center, waiting for final approval from the state, that employs Healogics, a company that specialized in wound healing.

The hospital is also advancing its limb-saving program and programs for treatment of diabetes, and ulcers.

The internal radiology program uses technology available to only one or two other hospitals in the state.

The changes also include clinical changes and upgrades to the maternity wing, including improvements to the delivery room.

But building confidence in the hospital also involves significant outreach to the community, which he said the hospital has been engaged in from the day new owners took over.

“We are paying close attention to all aspects of the hospital and its services,” he said.

The hospital also realizes that some of its patients come from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds, which the hospital will need to be aware of when providing services.