Officials seek to establish Bayonne Hospital Authority

Possible closure of Bayonne Medical Center spurs action

Bayonne officials seek to establish a government entity that would take over Bayonne Medical Center to prevent its closure.
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Bayonne officials seek to establish a government entity that would take over Bayonne Medical Center to prevent its closure.

At the most recent Bayonne City Council meeting, officials introduced a resolution to establish a Bayonne Hospital Authority. That entity would consist of council appointees. If the resolution passes, it will prevent any tentative closure of Bayonne Medical Center.

CarePoint Health has announced that it’s seeking to sell the hospital to a “strategic partner” that has yet to be determined.

This resolution came on the heels of a press conference in late October in which Mayor Jimmy Davis, members of the city council, and state and county legislators addressed rumors that CarePoint had plans to sell Bayonne Medical Center to RWJ Barnabas.

Davis said that parties seeking to close Bayonne’s only full-service hospital would have to go through him.

CarePoint spokespersons said that while the company will sell its two other locations, Christ Hospital and Hoboken University Medical Center, to RWJ Barnabas, the company has “initiated a separate process seeking a strategic partner for Bayonne Medical Center.”

There’s no indication that any “strategic partners” CarePoint is in talks with will close BMC. No agreements, binding or otherwise, have been struck.

Hospital closures affect communities

An anonymous source familiar with the matter told the Bayonne Community News that CarePoint is currently in negotiations  with multiple major healthcare agencies.

Officials are aware of issues faced by other Hudson County communities when hospitals closed.

In 2008, CarePoint, a for-profit healthcare company, purchased the Bayonne Medical Center, which opened in 1888.

When a hospital closes, or reduces its bed count, it must go through a lengthy approval process with the New Jersey Department of Health and other state agencies.

The specifics of how the Bayonne Hospital Authority will function have not yet been determined. What the government-appointed board would be responsible for will be discussed over the next month.

The Bayonne Hospital Authority would take control of Bayonne Medical Center in the event that a private owner ceases operations there.

The level of financial liability the Bayonne Hospital Authority would take on has yet to be determined. The Hoboken City Council established a municipal hospital authority in 2008, as state law permitted, and took control of Hoboken University Medical Center for several years before new owners bought the hospital. The Hoboken Hospital Authority sold HUMC to CarePoint in 2011 under then-Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s administration.

Davis is concerned about the abruptness of CarePoint’s plans and believes the community is not equipped to handle BMC’s closure.

Should BMC close, the next closest full-service hospital for residents would be Jersey City Medical Center. For some on the peninsula, that drive spans nine miles of some of the most heavily-trafficked roads in the county.

This year RWJ Barnabas opened a satellite emergency room on Broadway not far from BMC.

Officials will vote on whether to establish a Bayonne Hospital Authority at the next council meeting, slated to take place on Dec. 18.

For updates on this and more stories check hudsonreporter.com or follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mike Montemarano can be reached at mikem@hudsonreporter.com.