January 18, 2022

Heal Me Healthy

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State health department hearing on Bayonne Medical Center sale largely draws CarePoint Health supporters

3 min read

Doctors, patients and company leaders fully supportive of a Bayonne Medical Center operated by CarePoint Health’s chosen successor dominated a state Department of Health public hearing Tuesday night in the city’s library.

The hearing represented a standard step in New Jersey’s Certificate of Need process for healthcare facilities, in this case for BMC Hospital LLC’s desired increase from 9.9% ownership of the hospital operations to 49% to continue gradually taking over CarePoint’s operations.

But it was far more one-sided and briefer than the last similar meeting in which the public chimed in on the hospital’s future.

CarePoint Health and BMC Hospital LLC want to maintain ownership of the hospital. Landlord Hudson Regional Hospital wants to puchase the hospital and has stated that CarePoint Health is in breach of its lease.

Doctors, patients and leaders from both sides participated in a much livelier meeting on the matter in May as the city contemplated using eminent domain to acquire the hospital, lease it out to BMC Hospital LLC and remove Hudson Regional Hospital from the picture.

This week, just 10 days before Christmas Eve, only two speakers — Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski and an attorney for Hudson Regional Hospital — of the 15 were not fully in support of BMC Hospital LLC’s Certificate of Need application for the ownership.

Hudson Regional Hospital appeared to opt mainly for the legal route, re-initiating a motion to stay the application as litigation about the lease continues.

At the meeting, multiple patients spoke of how the hospital in its current state had, literally, been a lifesaver for them. Doctors and nurses spoke highly of BMC Hospital LLC’s influence on their workspace in the short time it has been there.

“They provide the best equipment for their staff, and they provide an atmosphere of success,” said Dr. Thomas Azzolini, a podiatric surgeon who said he has had a long relationship with the LLC’s principals.

Department of Health officials all attended the meeting remotely, and speakers, given three minutes to comment, went to a room neighboring where attendees were gathered in the library to provide their testimony alone. One surgeon shook hands with the BMC Hospital LLC owners upon returning from his comment period.

City Council President and mayoral hopeful Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski voiced three concerns to the Department of Health that she said reflected what she’s heard from the public, though she said she does not care who ultimately runs the hospital.

Her concerns were the timing of the hearing during the holiday season, whether a transfer of ownership is compatible with CarePoint’s plan to become a nonprofit and whether it gives control of the hospital to BMC Hospital LLC through its management agreement.

“I do want to call on the Department of Health to be more active in this process,” she said. “It seems like the only guys who benefit from this process are the owners of CarePoint.”

Ashe-Nadrowski was the only Bayonne elected official to speak. Mayor Jimmy Davis did, however, issue his support for the Certificate of Need in writing, a document included in the application for the certificate.

BMC Hospital LLC is made up of surgical center investors. It paid $1 million for the initial 9.9% stake in the hospital and would pay an additional $4 million for this next 39.1% piece.

Peter Franco, a resident often critical of the Davis administration, said he is disappointed by the timing of the public hearing and wants the city to stay out of the matter of who runs the hospital.

“Something that has this much impact, you want to have as many eyes and ears on it as you can,” Franco said in an interview.

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