Another day, another twist in the Hudson County hospital crisis

A new deal throws a wrench into the already complicated ordeal

Bayonne Medical Center, photo by Daniel Israel.
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Bayonne Medical Center, photo by Daniel Israel.

As the Hudson County Freeholders move to seize three local hospitals through eminent domain, a separate deal has been reached that would end the crisis altogether by other means. This new revelation adds another plot twist into an already dramatic scenario.

Hudson Regional Hospital (HRH) in Secaucus has come to an agreement with Avery Eisenreich to purchase Bayonne Medical Center (BMC) and Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC).

Eisenreich owns the real estate of BMC, 75 percent of HUMC, and 25 percent of Christ Hospital, purchasing them in November of 2019. CarePoint Health, operator of the three hospitals, is dissolving and in search of a new operator for each facility.

At the same time as the new real estate deal with Eisenreich was reached, HRH placed an offer with CarePoint to operate the three hospitals, including Christ Hospital.

Dr. Nizar Kifaieh, President and CEO of HRH, confirmed the deal, adding that the entities have arrived at an agreement with Eisenreich, the property owner, to control the facilities.

“The Hudson County community should be served by an adequately-financed network of high-performing hospitals, and we have made a bona fide offer to CarePoint that would result in Hudson Regional in Secaucus, Christ Hospital in Jersey City, Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center operating through an esteemed management and medical team that already had proven its ability to establish and fulfill rewarding agreements with labor, accept nearly all in-network insurance and be responsive to the region through a true community hospital model,” Kifaieh said.

Early interest in BMC

HRH sought to acquire BMC when the hospital first announced its need for an operator.

“Our interest in Bayonne Medical Center brought us into this dialog, and while we would continue to pursue ownership of the other two hospitals, seeing Bayonne subjected to an attempt to thread the needle of a very difficult transaction that is dependent on a publicly funded eminent domain proceeding of unknown consequence seems the lesser of the options,” Kifaieh said.

When the Hudson County Freeholders moved forward with plans to use eminent domain to end the hospital crisis and seize the hospitals, HRH renewed its interest in BMC, as well as the other facilities.

HRH made an offer to Eisenreich to acquire the BMC and HUMC properties. After coming to an agreement, HRH went to CarePoint to bid to operate those hospitals as well as Christ Hospital.

“We have already arrived at an agreement directly with the property owner to control the facilities, which is a significant hurdle that does not require any public process or funding, and if we had the opportunity to match an offer for Bayonne, we would,” Kifaieh said.

HRH will match any offer CarePoint has received for BMC, but has not yet heard back.

Eisenreich has accepted the deal, as opposed to the county seizing his property through eminent domain or condemnation. However, nothing is finalized

Eisenreich welcomes the agreement

Eisenreich had previously noted his opposition to the Freeholders move to allow the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) to seize the hospitals through eminent domain, urging the Freeholders to cooperate with him privately to come to an agreement.

Angelo Genova, Eisenreich’s attorney, welcomed the deal.

“Hudson Regional, a Hudson County acute-care facility operator, has offered a welcomed long-term solution to county health care needs,” Genova told The Hudson Reporter. “My client welcomes a tenant of this caliber as long as the mission remains unchanged: operate world-class hospitals in each city.”

Genova criticized the eminent domain process, urging the county to cooperate with Eisenreich.

“Why would our political officials, while claiming urgency, resort to eminent domain and rifle this property from my client, when there can be an immediate solution to Hudson County’s hospital dilemma?” Genova said. “Condemnation would be futile, costly, and significantly burden taxpayers.”

Condemnation has been considered by county officials as an alternative method to seize the properties.

“This is quite perplexing and demands answers from our politicians, especially because the current operator appears to be the barrier to this solution,” Genova said. “The County and its residents require health care stability now.”

Despite the new deal between HRH and Eisenreich, CarePoint still plans to sell BMC to a different entity entirely which would operate the hospital. However, both deals may stall because at the end of the day both CarePoint and Eisenreich must come to an agreement.

CarePoint still moving forward with BMC deal

CarePoint signed a Letter of Intent to sell the assets of Bayonne Medical Center to BMC Hospital, LLC in late March. The parties expect to sign an asset purchase agreement shortly and submit the requisite regulatory applications, according to CarePoint.

“Unsurprisingly, Mr. Eisenreich continues to attempt to interfere with the transaction that will ensure that Bayonne Medical Center continues as an acute care hospital for the benefit of the citizens it serves,” a spokesperson for CarePoint said. “Mr. Eisenreich has written that he intends to re-purpose Bayonne Medical Center if he purchased the property.”

CarePoint claimed in a lawsuit against Eisenreich that he intends to re-purpose BMC as a nursing home. Eisenreich has repeatedly denied the claim and has agreed to the deal with HRH in part because they intend to operate the hospital as an acute-care facility.

Meanwhile, CarePoint signed a Letter of Intent in which RWJBarnabas Health would acquire Christ Hospital and HUMC. With this new agreement between Eisenreich and HRH, CarePoint alleges that Eisenreich is attempting to make other hospital operators “unwitting participants in his continued scheme.”

“CarePoint would be surprised if Hudson Regional is actively attempting to disrupt a successful transition of ownership of Bayonne Medical Center to the new owners,” according to a CarePoint spokesperson.

In response to the announcement that CarePoint would reach an agreement with BMC Hospital LLC shortly, HRH reiterated that it already has reached an agreement with Eisenreich.

“We’re very encouraged to hear the announcement that they’re close to a deal, as previously we’ve heard that they have reached a deal,” a spokesperson for HRH told the Hudson Reporter, emphasizing  the hospital’s readiness to acquire the hospitals.

It appears nothing in this matter is set in stone in this evolving situation. As the hospital crisis plays out, the three Hudson County acute-care facilities may soon know their fate.

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.