As the Hudson County hospital crisis awaits intervention from the New Jersey Department of Health, both sides in the struggle continue to make their pleas. The medical staff at Bayonne Medical Center (BMC) has voiced its support for CarePoint Health.
CarePoint Health is dissolving and has been liquidating its assets, including BMC, Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC), and Christ Hospital in Jersey City.
Avery Eisenreich, owner of nursing home operator Alaris Health, purchased the land of BMC and HUMC in November of 2019. CarePoint has been searching for an operator for the facilities ever since, eventually signing a formal sale agreement with BMC Hospital LLC to operate BMC.
CarePoint has signed a letter of intent with RWJBarnabas Health whereby RWJBH would acquire operations at both HUMC and Christ Hospital.
Meanwhile, Hudson Regional Hospital (HRH) entered into a contract to buy the properties on which BMC and HUMC sit from Eisenreich for $76 million, and $144 million respectively. The announcement came on the same day as the announcement of the formal sale agreement between CarePoint and BMC Hospital LLC.
As a result of the conflict, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise has asked New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner (NJDOH) Judy Persichilli for help.
Mayor James Davis of Bayonne, Mayor Ravi Bhalla of Hoboken, Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City, and Mayor Brian Stack of Union City, as well as Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) CEO Norman Guerra, signed the letter calling for a state solution.
In June, both BMC Hospital LLC and Eisenreich’s attorney Angelo Genova penned their own letters to the NJ DOH, asking for support of their respective transactions.
BMC medical staff speaks out
In a letter addressed to Gov. Phil Murphy, NJ DOH Commissioner Persichilli, Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalotti, Mayor James Davis, and Hudson County Executive DeGise, BMC’s medical staff is voicing its support for the transaction between CarePoint and BMC Hospital LLC.
More than 150 staff members, including doctors, nurses, union delegates, members of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) Union, and members of the community advisory group of BMC signed the letter.
“[We] are writing in enthusiastic support of the pending transaction between CarePoint Health and Bayonne Hospital LLC,” the letter said. “We also request your immediate intervention to stop efforts by the current landowner and Hudson Regional Hospital to undermine the transaction and prevent the closing.”
According to the letter, “virtually all of our doctors, nurses, and Union delegates and staff support our appeal.”
“The work and the services the Hospital has been delivering to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic makes it invaluable,” the letter went on. “As we serve in these troubling times, we are painfully aware of the impact that the uncertainty concerning the future of the Hospital is having on our doctors, nurses, and our entire community.”
BMC staff members said they “simply do not understand how or why a landowner should be able to dictate the future of our Hospital.”
HRH stakes its claim
HRH’s claims that the landowner has the right to determine the operator of the hospital. And since it now owns BMC’s real estate, HRH has said it can determine the hospital operator and that HRH would operate the facility and not BMC Hospital LLC, contrary to CarePoint’s formal sale agreement.
The staff also urged against HRH managing operations remotely.
“The Hospital is a TJC [The Joint Commission] certified, Leapfrog A top performer, acute care community hospital and aspires for a future in which it is owned by and managed specifically for the City of Bayonne,” the letter said. “We do not support an operator that will manage remotely and has no roots, expertise, or credentials in our community.”
In the letter, the medical staff said it was excited about the prospect of working with the members of BMC Hospital LLC, because the operator plans to retain staff after the transition, among other pledges.
HRH counters that it will not lay off BMC staff as an operator, and is also TJC-certified.
“BMC Hospital is committed to employ all of our employees, continue all of our services, increase services, make significant investments in the Hospital, and share our collective vision of a strong and independent Bayonne Hospital,” the letter continued.
The medical staff thanked local Hudson County officials for penning the first letter to the NJ DOH asking for help.
“Only through your immediate collective intervention can we stabilize, grow and become viable for all healthcare needs of our community especially during this health care crisis,” the letter said. “As the individuals that run and operate the Hospital and care for patients on a daily basis we request that you consider our strong desires and wishes in regard to the future of the Hospital.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.