The Mailbag: Saving Christ Hospital

To the Editor:

Christ Hospital is a community asset too important to be lost as a non-profit, acute care hospital. Losing Christ is not in the best interest of Jersey City or Hudson County. And it’s not in the best interest of healthcare delivery in New Jersey. Fortunately, there are many qualified groups in the running to buy Christ out of bankruptcy. All present different models for healthcare delivery.

As with any plan, the devil is always in the details.

The details of the joint Community Healthcare Associates (CHA) and Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) plan are relatively simple. CHA will purchase Christ and its assets and act as a landlord. We would then immediately sign a long-term lease with Jersey City Medical Center who would operate an acute care hospital in the facility. Just like what is operating now. We aren’t looking to make a land grab or set up “options” to allow us to opt-out of running an acute care hospital in five years. We know how important Christ is to Jersey City and will be committed to the terms in place with JCMC. Going forward, Christ will operate as an acute care, non-profit facility if CHA/JCMC are the winning bidders in bankruptcy.

The CHA/JCMC deal makes a lot of sense on a lot of levels. CHA has a record of saving hospitals in the same financial positions as Christ. In 2008, our firm came together and purchased what was the Barnert Hospital in Paterson, NJ. We took a facility in dire straits, invested $15 million, and turned the property around. Now, Barnert sports an occupancy rate over 90% and is in strong financial health. We saved and created over 800 jobs and maintained vital healthcare services for the residents of Paterson.

We are confident we can replicate that success with Christ.

The record of Jersey City Medical center is undisputed. They are the premier healthcare delivery operation in Hudson County. With the close proximity to their current facility, the savings and cooperation possibilities are endless. A Christ/JCMC joint operation ensures quality, responsive healthcare for years to come. Most importantly, the most vulnerable among us – those with Medicaid, Charity Care, or uninsured treatment will be protected.

Right now, outside of the Palisades Medical Center, JCMC is the only other non-profit hospital in the county. Every other hospital is operating for-profit. What does this mean? First, the hospital isn’t worried foremost with answering to the community and responding to its needs. The bottom line trumps all else in the private sector. For-profit hospitals answer to investors and ownership before the needs of the community. Second, services people depend on can be put at risk. If a procedure or clinic isn’t profitable, it isn’t going to survive in a for-profit hospital.

That means vital services will be lost.

Finally, and most importantly, Jersey City Medical Center operates an “in-network” hospital. In a nutshell, this means they aren’t going to reject your insurance when you come to their facilities for treatment. Out-of-network providers are able to ‘run up the bill’ for lack of a better term. That is not how Jersey City Medical Center operates. Again, JCMC has a strong record of providing significant levels of Charity Care to the community as well as serving the Medicaid population.

We bring the right model for the long-term future of Christ and if successful will work in partnership to ensure that Christ is a viable entity providing quality healthcare for years to come.

Jeff Moll
Community Healthcare Associates

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