The State Health Planning Board will hold a public hearing regarding the certificate of need application submitted to the Department of Health by IJKG Opco LLC, an affiliate of CarePoint Health which is the current operator of Bayonne Medical Center. The certificate of need, if granted, would allow the transfer of ownership of the operations of the hospital.
CarePoint has been selling its assets, including Bayonne Medical Center. In November of 2019, Avery Eisenreich, owner of nursing home operator Alaris Health, purchased the property, including the grounds and building, of Bayonne Medical Center.
CarePoint has been searching for an operator for the hospital ever since, signing an agreement in 2020 with BMC Hospital LLC to operate Bayonne Medical Center. Meanwhile, Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus purchased the property of Bayonne Medical Center from Eisenreich for $76 million.
Since the sale has closed, Hudson Regional has made clear its intention to operate the hospital, not BMC Hospital LLC. This has sparked a war between the two entities over who will operate the hospital.
Public hearing slated
The board invites the public to comment on the application. Copies of the application are available for review at the Bayonne Public Library, the New Jersey State Library, and at the New Jersey Department of Health.
All those wishing to make oral comments to the Board are invited to attend the public hearing on this application on Dec. 14. The hearing will take place at the 2nd Floor Board Room at the Bayonne Public Library at 697 Avenue C.
The board will take comments from 6 to 7 p.m. or close of testimony, whichever is later. Comments will be limited to three minutes per person, although written comments may also be submitted at the same time.
In-person attendance is limited to allow for social distancing. Anyone attending in-person must wear a well-fitting mask and will be screened prior to entrance for temperature or signs of COVID-19 illness in accordance with Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
The public can alternatively attend the public hearing virtually via Microsoft Teams. Watch online or call in by dialing in at 856-338-7074 with phone conference ID 279177439.
Comments may also be submitted in writing after the hearing. Comments must be received by the State Health Planning Board no later than Dec. 21. Mail to Jamie Hernandez at the New Jersey Department of Health’s Office of Legal and Regulatory Compliance on the 3rd Floor at 120 South Stockton Street in Trenton, 08625-0358, at P.O. Box 358. For further information, call the Department of Health at 609-376-0960.
Council president speaks out
The meeting information was in-part circulated by City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski.
“It is important for the residents of Bayonne to stay informed on the status of Bayonne Hospital,” she said. “It appears that the New Jersey Department of Health has scheduled a public hearing on transferring a percentage of ownership of the hospital.”
According to Ashe-Nadrowski, the application would allow CarePoint to sell up to 49 percent of its ownership stake in Bayonne Medical Center.
“Although it is not clear through the public notice, this hearing is part of a process to allow CarePoint to sell up to 49 percent of the hospital,” she said. “I have always said that my main concern is making sure Bayonne has a full-service hospital and that this process should be transparent.”
Ashe-Nadrowski said she wants to ensure the public is informed about the hearing.
“I am drawing attention to the hearing, because Bayonne residents should know about it,” she said. “I think the lack of advertising and the time of year it was scheduled for may meet the legal requirements but is certainly not designed to encourage public discussion.”
Ashe-Nadrowski has been critical of the move to condemn the hospital property through eminent domain, opposing ordinances favored by Mayor James Davis and his administration to remedy the situation in favor of BMC Hospital LLC. However, those ordinances have been stalled at the Local Finance Board due to issues with the application. Meanwhile, CarePoint is transitioning from a for-profit system to a nonprofit, complicating the matter further.
The saga continues
Due to the complications at the Local Finance Board, this hearing will be the first major one by a state entity regarding hospital ownership.
CarePoint Health, Hudson Regional Hospital, and BMC Hospital LLC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com.