Eminent domain proceedings move forward in Hudson County hospital crisis

Meanwhile, CarePoint Health has appointed a new CEO of the three hospitals

Bayonne Medical Center sits at the heart of the crisis.
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Bayonne Medical Center sits at the heart of the crisis.

To add further uncertainty to the ongoing Hudson County hospital crisis, the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) is moving forward with eminent domain proceedings. Meanwhile, CarePoint Health has appointed a new CEO of its hospital system.

CarePoint Health is dissolving and has been liquidating its assets, including Bayonne Medical Center, Hoboken University Medical Center, and Christ Hospital in Jersey City.

Avery Eisenreich, owner of nursing home operator Alaris Health, purchased the land of Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center in November of 2019. CarePoint has been searching for a hospital operator for the facilities ever since, eventually signing a formal sale agreement with BMC Hospital LLC to operate Bayonne Medical Center.

CarePoint has also signed a letter of intent with RWJBarnabas Health whereby that company would acquire operations at both Hoboken University Medical Center and Christ Hospital.

Meanwhile, Hudson Regional Hospital entered into a contract to buy the properties on which Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center sit from Eisenreich for $76 million, and $144 million respectively. When the sale closes between Eisenreich and Hudson Regional Hospital, Hudson Regional intends to operate the hospitals, not BMC Hospital LLC.

The announcement came on the same day as the announcement of the formal sale agreement between CarePoint and BMC Hospital LLC.

Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise has asked Department of Health  Commissioner Judy Persichilli for help. Bayonne Mayor James Davis of Bayonne, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Union City Mayor Brian Stack, and Improvement Authority CEO Norman Guerra also signed the letter.

In response, BMC Hospital LLC and Eisenreich penned their own letters to the Department of Health, asking for support of their respective transactions.

Eminent domain imminent

As the entities fight over the fate of the three hospitals, the county is moving forward with eminent domain proceedings.

The HCIA has notified the property owners and operators of Bayonne Medical Center, Christ Hospital, and Hoboken University Medical Center that an onsite inspection of each facility will be conducted by the authority’s real estate appraisal experts, according to HCIA spokesperson Caitlin Mota.

According to Mota, the notices are part of the HCIA’s ongoing due diligence “to ensure Hudson County residents continue to have access to proper and sustainable healthcare services.”

In May, the Hudson County Board of Freeholders voted to approve three resolutions invoking eminent domain on the three CarePoint Health hospitals.

The HCIA was authorized to seize the land, owned by Eisenreich, and his share of the hospitals through eminent domain. The authority would then resell the hospitals to entities that would operate them as acute care facilities.

Meanwhile, the CarePoint Board has appointed Dr. Achintya Moulick as the new CEO of the CarePoint Health system.

Moulick is an internationally renowned cardiovascular surgeon with expertise in congenital, neonatal, pediatric, and and adult heart disease. CarePoint said Moulick has had extensive experience in program and hospital building as well as creating excellent value in clinical care.

Christ Hospital, Hoboken University Medical Center, and  Bayonne Medical Center anticipated the influx of COVID-19 patients and implemented innovative techniques to provide care for patients severely afflicted by COVID-19, according to CarePoint.

The hospitals, under the leadership of Moulick, created standardized treatment protocols, used convalescent plasma therapy, novel drug treatments, nitric oxide treatment for pulmonary artery hypertension, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) modalities, and other advanced therapies to better care for patients impacted by COVID-19.

“I have been very impressed by the quality of clinical and administrative leadership in our three hospitals, and I look forward to helping the hospitals care for all of our patients,” Moulick said. “A major focus of this role will be helping guide the hospitals to new opportunities and allow our System to innovate, ensuring we keep a step ahead of the clinical challenges today and into the future.”

The crisis continues

CarePoint has filed suit against Hudson Regional Hospital (HRH), claiming it is interfering with the transaction to sell the hospital in Bayonne. And while a judge denied a temporary restraining order and ruled that Hudson Regional had not breached a confidentiality agreement between the entities, a trial date is set for 2021.

Amid the back-and-forth, BMC Hospital LLC got Bayonne Medical Center’s staff to voice its support for the transaction with CarePoint.

Approximately 200 people comprising “the independent medical staff, doctors, nurses, union delegates and members of the HPAE Union as well as members of the community advisory group of Bayonne Medical Center” have expressed “enthusiastic support for the pending transaction between CarePoint Health and Bayonne Hospital LLC.”

Many of those staff members joined Mayor Davis a few days later outside Bayonne Medical Center, calling on the Department of Health to intervene on behalf of CarePoint and BMC Hospital LLC.

Davis said he didn’t know of any deal with Hudson Regional Hospital and was familiar only with the deal between CarePoint and BMC Hospital LLC.

After the rally in front of the hospital, Hudson Regional Hospital President and CEO Dr. Nizar Kifaieh sought to set the record straight in a letter to Davis.

Kifaieh said that as the “next owner-operator of Bayonne Medical Center,” HRH guarantees a number of things, primarily the permanent operation of the hospital as an acute care facility.

HRH will guarantee COVID-19 preparedness, uninterrupted operation, capital investment as owner-operators of Bayonne Medical Center, no public funding required, and “stable property ownership and operation.”

On June 24, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) denied BMC Hospital LLC’s request for an expedited review of its certificate of need to operate Bayonne Medical Center.

This comes after BMC Hospital LLC asked for expedited review of the application to operate Bayonne Medical Center, alleging dire financial circumstances and hinting that the medical center may close, alleging “potential loss of access to essential life-saving services.”

BMC Hospital LLC plans on reapplying to the Department of Health to operate the hospital under the full-review certificate of need application.

Meanwhile, HRH has submitted a pending certificate of need application for review by the Department of Health.

Amid the chaos, what is clear is that the crisis is far from over.

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.