Mayor Davis calls on Gov. Murphy to intervene in Hudson County hospital crisis

Davis is frustrated by the Department of Health’s application process to operate the hospital

Bayonne Medical Center remains at the epicenter of the crisis.
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Bayonne Medical Center remains at the epicenter of the crisis.

As the Hudson County hospital crisis drags on, Bayonne Mayor James Davis has written a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy pleading for help.

Davis said he was frustrated by the Department of Health’s process regarding applications to operate Bayonne Medical Center.

“The prolonged dispute over the facility is creating unnecessary instability within our health system and community — amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, no less,” Davis said. “Continued delay risks closure of the hospital (or many of its services/departments), flight of medical staff, loss of healthcare access and the elimination of hundreds of jobs. None of these outcomes are acceptable to the Bayonne community.”

The saga continues

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

Avery Eisenreich, owner of nursing home operator Alaris Health, purchased the land of BMC and Hoboken University Medical Center 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 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 has closed on the purchase of the real estate of BMC for $76 million and is in contract with Eisenreich to acquire the Hoboken University Medical Center for $144 million.

When the sale closes between Eisenreich and Hudson Regional Hospital, HRH intends to operate the hospitals, not BMC Hospital LLC. This has sparked a war between the two entities over who will operate the hospitals.

Davis supports BMC Hospital LLC

In the letter, Davis reiterated his support for BMC Hospital LLC to operate Bayonne Medical Center.

Recently, the NJ Department of Health rejected BMC Hospital LLC’s request for an expedited review of its application to operate BMC.

Davis said the application from BMC Hospital LLC that is now before the department represents “the only viable and well thought out plan” for operation of the hospital, adding that the plan provides for the hospital’s “sustainability and growth.”

The letter made no mention of HRH’s plan.

“Based on their current plans, its strict focus on Bayonne Medical Center, and on the lack of a viable operational and financially stable alternative that could meet our community’s needs, we believe BMC Hospital LLC is that operator,” Davis said.

Asking for intervention

In addition to reiterating his support for BMC Hospital LLC’s application to operate Bayonne Medical Center, Davis asked Gov. Murphy for direct intervention.

“Given the stakes, I would like to request your intervention to ensure timely resolution of this matter,” Davis said. “Our local health system and community deserve the proper attention and action to bring closure to this issue.”

Davis previously wrote to the NJ Department of Health, along with other local officials, pleading for state intervention to no avail.

Meanwhile, the county has been working on its own solution to the crisis in support of BMC Hospital LLC.

Is eminent domain imminent? 

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

The Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) has notified the property owners and operators of the three hospitals that an inspection of each facility will be conducted by the authority’s real estate appraisal experts, according to HCIA spokesperson Caitlin Mota.

HRH alleged that BMC Hospital LLC’s plan requires that the property be purchased through eminent domain and that the county will lease the land to BMC Hospital LLC at a reduced rate.

With multiple lawsuits  involving HRH and BMC Hospital LLC, among other complicating factors, the crisis appears 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.