Layoff Notice by CarePoint prompts health care employees’ union to call for oversight

Source: NJBiz.com

Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) elected leaders were notified this week by the administration of CarePoint Health that layoff notices would be sent to employees.

CarePoint, a for-profit company, operates Bayonne Medical Center, Christ Hospital in Jersey City, and Hoboken University Medical Center. HPAE, the largest union of nurses and health professionals in New Jersey, represents nurses at Christ Hospital in Jersey City and the nurses, health professionals, technical, service, business and clerical staff at Bayonne Medical Center in Bayonne.

Jennifer Morrill a spokesperson for CarePoint Health, said: “Hospitals across the country and certainly in New Jersey are seeing decreased patient volumes as more options for care emerge such as urgent care centers, imaging centers, ambulatory surgery sites, etc. Hospitals have the financial responsibility to staff the patient volume they serve and to adapt staffing to meet the patients whether in the hospital or in outpatient and ambulatory settings.

“While never an easy endeavor,” Morrill added, “We have utilized the most extreme caution and care to develop a plan that preserves our mission of providing the highest quality health care for the Hudson County community and maintains operational efficiency.”

Debbie White, HPAE president, said in a statement, “The recommendations of the state investigators must be reviewed and the state must intervene to monitor how the owners will take steps to protect the financial stability of CarePoint hospitals.”

But according to a state Commission of Investigations (SCI) report, CarePoint hospitals paid tens of millions of dollars in questionable management fees and allocations to private entities known as “related parties,” which have no employees and only limited operating expenses that raises questions about the nature of their operations.

The report recommended the enhancement of the ability for the state Department of Health (DOH) to ensure the long-term adequacy and viability of hospitals by ensuring money is properly spent, to conduct comparisons between and among various hospitals to best determine which hospitals may be in financial distress; and to ensure a proper understanding of the financials that will help the department and other state agencies, legislators and others make well-informed policy decisions regarding the amounts and types of state aid that should be allocated to hospitals.

HPAE said it has urged the Murphy administration to appoint a financial monitor to implement the recommendations of the SCI report and bring oversight to the state’s health care system. “Our union’s warning cries regarding for-profit hospital finances were ignored by the Christie Administration. Now the state’s own investigation has alerted us all too questionable practices,” said White.

Details on the layoffs would be released after the HPAE and Murphy administration negotiate their terms. HPAE said it is expected that nearly 40 employees represented by HPAE will receive layoff notices at both hospitals.

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