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CarePoint inks deal with Bayonne hospital operator as eminent domain looms

BMC Hospital LLC designated as the operator of Bayonne Medical Center

Bayonne Medical Center, photo by Daniel Israel.

CarePoint Health has announced that a hospital operator has been found for Bayonne Medical Center, removing concerns that have clouded the future of the hospital for months.

CarePoint Health and BMC Hospital LLC announced that they signed a letter of intent on March 23 concerning the sale and preservation of Bayonne Medical Center as an acute care hospital. 

According to CarePoint, the healthcare provider “remains steadfast in its mission to serve the patients and needs of communities as its hospitals, physicians, nurses and staff are working extremely hard to address the myriad challenges related to the coronavirus.”

CarePoint hospitals in crisis

CarePoint Health has dissolved and has been liquidating its assets. That includes selling Bayonne Medical Center (BMC), Christ Hospital in Jersey City, and Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC).

In October of 2019, CarePoint and RWJBarnabas Health signed a letter of intent, whereby Christ Hospital and HUMC will become part of RWJBarnabas.

In November, Avery Eisenreich, owner of Alaris Health, purchased the real estate of the Bayonne and Hoboken hospitals. Eisenreich also owns 25 percent of Christ Hospital.

But according to CarePoint officials, he is not interested in operating BMC, nor in helping CarePoint Health in its negotiations to find a new operator.

Previous concerns about CarePoint’s potential failure to make a deal with a hospital operator prompted the City of Bayonne to establish a Municipal Hospital Authority that would act as an operator is such a scenario.

Now the future of Bayonne Medical Center appears certain.

The transaction is now contingent on approvals from the Department of Health, and a simultaneous purchase of the real estate by an affiliated entity.

Alternatively, instead of the real estate being bought by an affiliated entity, the City of Bayonne and or Hudson County Improvement Authority can exercise its right to eminent domain and begin proceedings to obtain the hospital real estate.

Eminent domain legislation imminent

Earlier in March, Hudson County legislators protested Eisenreich’s alleged interference in the deal between CarePoint and RWJBarnabas outside of an Alaris Health nursing home.

At the rally, State Sen. Brian Stack said he is working with state legislators on a new bill which would streamline the process for municipalities to condemn and purchase hospital properties in order to keep them as hospitals.

According to a statement from CarePoint Health, the company supports the eminent domain legislation in hopes that the bill would pave the way for both the Bayonne and Hoboken properties to be purchased and allow RWJBH to finalize the HUMC and Christ Hospital transactions.

Now it seems eminent domain actions may be on the horizon in Bayonne without any legislation necessary.

“We understand that the City of Bayonne and the Hudson County Improvement Authority are discussing the appropriate steps related to eminent domain under their existing authority,” a spokesperson for CarePoint Health told the Bayonne Community News. ”In parallel, the parties expect to sign a definitive agreement within 45 days.”

Future improvements to BMC

According to a spokesperson for CarePoint Health, the executives at BMC Hospital LLC plan to expand the hospital’s services and to continue to deliver healthcare services to the residents of Bayonne.

According to a spokesperson for CarePoint Health, the executives of BMC Hospital LLC collectively have over 50 years of experience operating healthcare facilities. That experience includes turning around and successfully operating multiple ambulatory surgery centers in New Jersey, and several others in New York.

They expressed excitement about the future of Bayonne Medical Center under their leadership and their plans for the future.

“Bayonne is a vibrant, growing community with a great history that the Bayonne Medical Center has always been part of, and should continue to be into the future,” according to the executives at BMC Hospital LLC. “We look forward to making sure that happens for the citizens, patients, doctors, nurses and others to whom the hospital is so important.”

Is HUMC next?

CarePoint Health separately reached an agreement with RWJ Barnabas Health, Inc. on all material terms to sell Christ Hospital and Hoboken University Medical Center.

However, Avery Eisenreich apparently refused to accept what CarePoint Health called “reasonable offers that will allow the transaction to move forward.”

CarePoint is asking the City of Hoboken to step in and exercise eminent domain. However, Hoboken officials have rejected insinuations that the city might exercise eminent domain.

Hoboken spokesperson Vijay Chaudhuri told the Hudson Reporter that, “eminent domain is not something that is on the table, and the city is not in the position to own a hospital.”

While it is not clear how things will proceed elsewhere, it appears Bayonne residents will get a little reprieve during the COVID-19 pandemic that Bayonne Medical Center will continue to operate as an acute care facility.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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