Source: New Jersey Spotlight
On July 24, the state Department of Health granted Barnabas permission to open an SED in a sprawling new building it has constructed in Bayonne. Clinical care would be connected to Jersey City Medical Center, the organization’s only full hospital in Hudson County. The facility — expected to see a ribbon cutting in the weeks to come — is five blocks from an existing emergency room attached to the local community hospital, Bayonne Medical Center, which is owned by CarePoint.
In its November application, RWJBarnabas — the result of a 2015 merger — said the SED in Bayonne would help alleviate overcrowding at the JCMC emergency room and provide new healthcare options for residents in the Greenville section of Jersey City, who now have few options for medical care. In 2008, JCMC closed Greenville Hospital, a community hospital it operated there, which had served patients for more than a century but had fallen on hard times.
In approving the waiver for Barnabas, the DOH essentially overruled pleas from CarePoint to block the Bayonne SED, which it feared would cut into business at Bayonne Medical Center. CarePoint presented its own data to show there is no need for additional emergency services in Bayonne and argued that such a facility is not easily accessible to patients in Greenville. Barnabas has a responsibility to first exhaust all options for an SED location in Greenville. CarePoint urged the state in a January letter that “implored” regulators to deny the JCMC application for Bayonne.
But hospitals can also ask the state to waive this requirement if they can “demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Department that the proposed location will serve to eliminate or substantially mitigate problems of access to appropriate emergency care.” The state considers emergency room data, hospital-volume trends, and patient preference, among many other factors, but geography is not part of the picture in assessing waivers.
The former Greenville Hospital site reopened a few years ago and now provides some skeletal services, which Barnabas has pledged to sustain. But the organization has said the building does not have the capacity to support an SED at that location. Instead, the organization looked south, to Bayonne, and in late 2014 began the process to obtain a waiver and other approvals from the department to locate a remote emergency room in another location. (The campus for the new facility, which will offer a range of services, occupies much of the block southwest of Broadway and 24th Street in Bayonne.)
“RWJBarnabas Health is committed to improving health care for New Jersey residents,” the organization said in a statement. “We strongly support enhanced access for quality care for all of Hudson County, including Bayonne and the Greenville section of Jersey City.”
“We continue to move forward with our plans to expand medical services — including the Satellite Emergency Department at the new Bayonne facility — in the near future, and remain steadfastly committed to providing health care services through our Jersey City Medical Center at Greenville facility as well,” the statement continued. “Our services at Greenville as well as the soon-to-be-opened Bayonne facility promise a depth of services and activity which will generate access to high quality care throughout Hudson County.”