Don’t Play Politics with Charity Care

Written by Linda J. Schwimmer

Charity-care dollars have to go to safety-net hospitals, rather than being distributed to every facility in the state

New Jersey hospitals cannot legally — or, in my opinion, morally –turn away patients who need care but cannot pay. They also cannot turn away patients who pay less because they are covered by Medicaid and not private insurance. Hospital doors in New Jersey are open to all people who are sick or injured and in need of emergency care.

Continue reading Don’t Play Politics with Charity Care

How will sale of Saint Michael’s Hospital transform healthcare in Newark?

Governor Chris Christie’s administration has put off for nearly three years deciding what it should do about the future of healthcare in Newark. But the scheduled sale of the bankrupt Saint Michael’s Medical Center, one of five Newark hospitals, should force a decision.

The outcome of the sale will likely help shape the quality of healthcare that Newark residents receive, according to industry attorneys and analysts. It could also affect the financial stability of all of the city’s hospitals.

State involvement in hospital bankruptcies normally is limited to issues related to operating licenses. But not in this case, for three reasons:

First, the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority, which is chaired by Acting Commissioner of Health Cathleen Bennett, issued tax-exempt bonds for Saint Michael’s that currently total roughly $230 million.

Second, the state also owns another troubled Newark facility — University Hospital, which is facing millions of dollars in annual operating losses for the foreseeable future.

Third, if the state allows the sale of Saint Michael’s it should get a short-term financial shot in the arm. But if were to decide to take over the facility, it could realize a greater payback over a longer period.

Continue reading How will sale of Saint Michael’s Hospital transform healthcare in Newark?

Nurses, health care workers ratify new contracts at Christ Hospital and Bayonne Medical Center

Re-post from NJBiz | Written by Beth Fitzgerald

Nurses and other health care workers at Christ Hospital in Jersey City and Bayonne Medical Center on Wednesday ratified new union contracts that include a 1.5 percent pay raise, increased employer matching contributions for workers’ retirement plans and increased staffing levels at both hospitals.

The new labor contracts represented by the 12,000 member Health Professionals and Allied Employees union cover 400 nurses at Christ Hospital and 850 nurses and health care professionals at Bayonne Medical Center.

HPAE said in a statement that employee health insurance contributions will not increase during the term of the contract, which expires June 30, 2015.

HPAE said improved nurse-to-patient ratios at both hospitals is a key component of the contracts. The agreement provides for more nurses for hospital units, including medical surgical, intensive care, emergency department, oncology and maternal child health.

“Our first priority throughout these negotiations was to set strong standards for patient safety and quality care — and we did that,” said Nicole Mankowski, president, HPAE local at Christ Hospital.

Retirement benefits were also improved, with an increase of the employer matching contribution to 2 percent for Christ Hospital, and an increase of 1 percent for Bayonne Medical Center.

“Improvements in staffing will help recruit staff and improvements of retirement benefits should help retain our valuable experienced staff,” said John Bauer, president, HPAE local at Bayonne Medical Center.

“HPAE members, elected officials and community leaders were instrumental in achieving strong staffing improvements in both of our contracts,” said Ann Twomey, president, HPAE union.  “Our first priority throughout these negotiations was to set strong standards for patient safety and care in both the Bayonne and Jersey City communities.”

“CarePoint Health is very pleased that we have brought our negotiations with HPAE to resolution without any labor disruption affecting hospital patients, workers or the communities we serve,” said Jennifer Dobin, vice president of human resources at CarePoint Health, which owns the two hospitals.

She said CarePoint and the union reached terms in the early hours of July 31, following an extended bargaining session, and the issues resolved in the new contracts cover  compensation, retirement benefits, health insurance contributions and hospital staffing.

“We want to thank the HPAE and all stakeholders that contributed to the dialogue and helped us reach satisfying results for all parties,” Dobin said. “In the end, we are all committed to maintaining our hospitals’ standards of excellence in patient care.”

Christ Hospital, Bayonne Medical Center reach tentative agreements with union

Re-post from NJBiz | Written by Beth Fitzgerald

Tentative collective bargaining agreements have been reached between hospital workers and the owners of Christ Hospital in Jersey City and Bayonne Medical Center, the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union announced Thursday. HPAE said workers at the two hospitals will vote on the tentative contracts next week, and said it would not disclose details until then.

Jeanne Otersen, policy director for HPAE, said, “We made what we believe are significant improvements in (the) staffing level at both hospitals.”

The agreements also enhance retirement security for the workers and “protects many elements of health insurance coverage,” she said.

The agreements would be in place until June 30, 2015. HPAE said it represents more than 1,200 nurses and other health care workers between the two hospitals.

The negotiations had been contentious: After CarePoint raised the possibility of a lockout, the union rallied support from local elected officials.

“The support of our elected officials and community leaders made a major difference to our ability to include strong staffing improvements in both of our contracts,” said Ann Twomey, president of the 12,000 member HPAE.

The two hospitals are owned by the for-profit CarePoint Health, which also owns a third Hudson County Hospital, Hoboken University Medical Center.