Hudson Reporter

Jersey City Neighborhood Associations Form 'Community Oversight Board' To Monitor Christ Hospital Sale

The Hudson Reporter — Tuesday, January 24, 2012

By E. Assata Wright

JERSEY CITY AND BEYOND — Save Christ Hospital, a grassroots Jersey City effort that is trying to bring more transparency to the potential sale of the hospital, has formed a community oversight board to "represent ordinary citizens of Hudson County in the plans to sell this important community asset," according to a release from the organization. The advisory board is comprised of people 14 neighborhood associations and community groups, according to Jersey City activist Paul Bellan-Boyer.

Christ Hospital announced last year that it had accepted a purchase offer from Prime Healthcare Services, a California-based company that owns a chain of for-profit hospitals in that state. For months, residents and public officials throughout New Jersey have raised concerns about Prime's business and medical practices, which have led to an FBI investigation and scrutiny from California's legislature and attorney general.

Critics in Hudson County have also raised concerns about the nonprofit Christ Hospital potentially being sold to the for-profit Prime Healthcare. If the sale is approved by the New Jersey Attorney General, state Dept. of Health and Senior Services, and the state Health Planning Board, four of Hudson County's six hospitals will be under for-profit ownership. This, critics fear, will lead to the reduction or elimination of unprofitable medical services, such as pediatric and gynecological services.

"Clearly, the oversight board has no formal authority," Bellan-Boyer told the Reporter. "But usually in a hospital sale process the state requires that the hospital establish a community oversight board. We just want to make sure that [we do it] now, rather than at the end of the sale process."

The oversight board builds on a community meeting held last month that was co-hosted by Save Christ Hospital and New Jersey Citizen Action. That meeting attracted about 150 concerned residents.

The groups are calling for an "open, transparent review process with substantial and meaningful public participation"; a "community needs assessment to determine essential services that must be provided"; a "formal bid process that [the] state government, local government, and the public can see prior to any sale"; and that "any sale fully meet the [Community Health Care Assets Protection Act] standard of no negative impact on the public interest," among other demands.

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