Source: New Jersey Spotlight
To underscore its point about access, CarePoint submitted its own waiver request in January to build a satellite emergency department (SED) in Greenville to address the need it said the Barnabas facility in Bayonne couldn’t meet. The organization is seeking to build a remote emergency operation in Greenville itself, about 14 blocks south of the former Greenville Hospital site on John F. Kennedy Boulevard. The SED would be linked to CarePoint’s Christ Hospital, about six miles away in Jersey City; a DOH representative said the waiver request was under review.
“By providing blended data of Bayonne and Greenville, an impoverished and largely minority section of Jersey City that (JCMC) abandoned nine years prior, they are trying to make the Department believe that the population in the two areas is the same,” CarePoint said in a letter to the state. According to its own study, CarePoint noted, “problems of access do not exist in Bayonne but instead exist ONLY in Greenville.”
And between January and March, CarePoint officials said they have submitted applications for a half-dozen other SEDs at various locations in Hudson and Bergen counties; all would connect with the organization’s local hospitals, Bayonne Medical Center, Christ Hospital, and Hoboken University Medical Center.
Until it granted Barnabas the SED waiver for Bayonne – a separate licensing process is still pending – the DOH had approved eight satellite emergency facilities since 2004, according to a search on the department’s website. All but two are located in South Jersey or in shore counties. The most recent was in December 2014, when officials gave Virtua Health System permission to close its West Jersey Hospital in Berlin, a rural Camden County town, and open a remote emergency department. The department hasn’t OK’d a waiver request since 2010, when Lourdes Health System worked with Deborah Heart and Lung Center to open a new emergency site in Browns Mills, Burlington County.
According to the DOH approval of the Bayonne SED, based on data submitted by Barnabas and its own analysis, the new emergency facility there will serve an important need. The JCMC emergency room was designed to handle 57,000 visits annually, but regularly treats more than 80,000 annually, with more than a third coming from Bayonne and Greenville, according to the Barnabas application. The overcrowding is squeezing out vulnerable patients: nearly 4 percent of Greenville residents and more than 3 percent of Bayonne dwellers leave the ER without treatment, it said.
But that argument didn’t wash with representatives of the National Action Network, who wrote to state Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett in late June to raise their concerns and request a meeting to discuss what they called a “healthcare crisis” in Jersey City and Hudson County in general. They noted the county’s high rate of premature death, a high teen birth rate, poor management of chronic diseases and a “near outbreak level” of sexually transmitted diseases.
“If JCMC cares so much about the future of community healthcare in New Jersey they should be building new services in Greenville, not building an emergency department that is not needed in Bayonne,” the clergy members wrote.