Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop sent a request to Gov. Phil Murphy asking the state to use its authority over hospital health care systems to act quickly and engage Christ Hospital and RWJ Barnabas Health to help all involved parties work toward a resolution, amid acquisitions and accusations that threaten the hospital’s future.
In October of 2019, RWJBarnabas announced it entered into an agreement to acquire Christ Hospital from CarePoint Health. Fulop is asking for the state’s involvement to avoid a situation where an impasse leads to the hospital’s closing, resulting in the prospect of thousands of employees and their families losing employment, as well as compromising residents’ access to health care.
“It has been brought to my attention that Christ Hospital and RWJ Barnabas are at an impasse, and it appears that the closing of Christ Hospital in Jersey City may be imminent,” Fulop wrote to the governor.
“I urge you, on behalf of the people of Jersey City, to immediately bring the parties together. I’m convinced that a resolution that saves the hospital and avoids the damaging impacts of closure are possible with the state’s leadership and engagement,” the letter added.
In a statement, RWJ Barnabas said that “[t]he owners of CarePoint Health have very recently rejected RWJBarnabas Health’s fair and appropriate offer for the acquisition of Christ Hospital and Hoboken University Medical Center. The terms of the RWJBH offer: (i) ensured the residents of Hudson County access to high-quality medical care, and (ii) eliminated the complex management and ownership structures of the CarePoint affiliated entities, which gave rise to the litigation amongst its current and former owners.
“Despite the incredible distraction caused by this extraneous litigation, RWJBarnabas Health continued to negotiate in good faith with representatives from CarePoint and remained bolstered by the widespread support it had been receiving from the community, local and state officials, physicians and hospital staff alike RWJBarnabas Health has a comprehensive network of health care facilities, physician practices and ambulatory clinics – at Jersey City Medical Center, as well as in Bayonne and Greenville – that currently serve much of Hudson County. Notwithstanding this disappointing result, RWJBH will remain committed to the provision of health care to residents of Hudson County and will continue to make additional strategic investments for growth in the months and years to come.”
Ward D Councilman Michael Yun joined Fulop to denounce any path that leads to the closing of Christ Hospital in The Heights section of Jersey City, where a conflict between the hospital and RWJ Barnabas ultimately has the most impact on local residents who rely on the neighborhood hospital.
“The closing of Christ Hospital would be a devastating blow not only to the Jersey City Heights community, but its impact would also ripple throughout Central Hudson,” said Yun. “From those serviced by the medical institution, to those who work there and make Hudson County their home, no one would be spared from its negative impact.”
“There is simply no substitute for your direct involvement and no time to waste,” Fulop wrote.
“CarePoint Health appreciates the efforts by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Councilman Michael Yun to intervene and try to keep the dialogue open,” the health care system said in a statement. “All along we have approached negotiations with good-faith, and our priorities have always been our patients, employees and community. CarePoint Health was and remains ready, willing and able to close in accordance to the letter of intent that CarePoint Health and RWJ Barnabas Health heavily negotiated and signed in October.
“CarePoint Health welcomes the opportunity to return to negotiations. We hope direct involvement by state and local leaders will help the negotiations,” the statement continued.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:47 p.m. EST on Feb. 3, 2020 to include comments from CarePoint Health.