The Mailbag: Christ Hospital Sale Not in Jersey City’s Best Interest

On Wednesday, December 14, 2011, there was a public meeting at Abundant Joy Christian Center, located at 137 Bowers Street (between Central and Summit) regarding the proposed sale of Christ Hospital. As a Jersey City resident who was born in Christ Hospital, I attended this meeting to attain information regarding Christ Hospital’s proposed sale to a for-profit company from California. After hearing all sides, I feel that this deal is not in the best interest of the residents of Jersey City.

I understand that Christ Hospital is losing money and has huge debt; but, an expedited sale to Prime Healthcare Services, a for-profit company located on the other side of the nation, is not the solution. As discussed last night, Prime is currently under Federal investigation for Medicare fraud in California. The corporation is allegedly reporting inordinately high rates of septicemia (blood poisoning), which may have led to a possible overpayment of $48 million dollars in 2008 and 2009, and allegedly claiming a helicopter and Bentley as expenses under Medicare. If true, this goes to show us, the residents of Jersey City, that Prime will focus only on making money and not saving lives and keeping Jersey City residents healthy.

I was saddened by Mr. Kelly and his decidedly incomplete documentation, which was distributed to the people in attendance, also by the other Board members and upper management in attendance who did not even mention any of these concerns that had been previously documented by State and Federal officials. Rather than that, Mr. Kelly decided to portray information which is widely regarded as factual common knowledge as “inaccurate or utterly false and misleading;” nor did he admit that Prime is currently under investigation. Also, it was depressing to hear the hasty pro acquisition comments made by these members of the Board and upper level management while members of the public, like myself, tried to voice our concern and dismay. My apologies go out to the organizers of the event for the disrespect shown by these individuals. Thank you and the other residents of Jersey City for their respectful tone during those tense moments.

Let’s all be honest for one moment and recognize what this truly is, yet another case of capitalization of medical system. This story has spanned decades, let’s not forget Harry Truman championing the right to adequate medical care to all Americans in 1945. This needs to be repeated in your minds to understand it fully, Harry Truman realized our medical systems ‘pay for play’ structure was failing 69 years ago. In 69 years we have not come close to addressing the issue until very recently. The privatization of healthcare is nothing new, we’ve already bared witness to its result, which is, more Americans coming to grips with the understanding that they simply can’t afford healthcare. It’s a disgrace how many Americans die each year from simple illnesses and conditions that simply go untreated because they choose to not burden their families with the expense of treatment.

This horrific cycle perpetuated just to see a corporate balance sheet remain in the black. I ask you, what is the price of a son who will never again see his father’s face, or how justified is profit when it only costs the life of your son, your daughter, your mother, sibling or spouse? While you recoil in horror at these words, know that these costs, savings, and justifications for correcting the balance sheet are what Prime knows best.

Joel Torres

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