In some ways, Hudson County has become a laboratory for a national experiment, pitting for-profit hospitals against non-profits to see which model will work best in the extremely competitive medical field.
The three main medical care providers – CarePoint Health, Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC), and HackensackUMC Palisades – have each expanded services and in some cases delved into new concepts inspired by smart phones and social media. The big question is which business model will be able to sustain itself in an environment of increased competition and reduced reimbursement from insurance companies and other health providers.
While CarePoint, which operates three for-profit hospitals in Hudson County (Hoboken Medical Center, Bayonne Medical Center, and Christ Hospital), has played down recent layoffs of employees, the move suggests that the for-profit hospital network is doing some belt tightening after several years of intense expansion.
Meanwhile, the not-for-profit hospitals appear to be gaining strength, partly through innovative programs and closer ties to municipalities and joint projects. They tend to accept a wider array of insurances than the for-profit models. But not-for-profit hospitals are not without their own concerns, as indicated by a recent move by the township of North Bergen to force Palisades Medical Center to pay property taxes, and other moves by the state to look more closely at not-for-profit financing.
Over the last two years, hospitals have been building networks of private medical practices as another means of steering patients into their facilities. Some have developed stand-alone clinics in order to counter the continuing threat from small one-stop centers and small medical clinics that drain the patient pool.
JCMC opened a new Women’s Health Center at Grove Street (116 Newark Ave.) This is a spa-like setting designed by women for women, and includes imaging services (mammography, ultrasound, bone density, x-ray), holistic services (including integrative medicine, midwifery, post-partum doula, nutritional counseling, acupuncture and chiropractor) and traditional services (plastic surgery, OB/Gyn, rheumatology and endocrinology.)
CareChex, a national independent rating company recently scored Jersey City Medical Center-Barnabas Health at 97.3 percent and called it the top hospital in the state for medical excellence in heart attack treatment.
Perhaps one of the bigger pieces of news this year is the reopening of a complete new facility at the site of the former Greenville Hospital in Jersey City. Closed in 2008, the facility has been completely repurposed to provide such medical services as an urgent care center, an HIV treatment center, primary and specialty physicians’ offices, and programs for children with special needs. As many as 200 people are now employed in the building and additional programs are planned.
Time will tell if this is a trend or just a blip in development, and whether the for-profit concept will continue to grow as the model for the future.