Recently, my colleagues on the Newark City Council passed a resolution urging the state to withdraw as a potential bidder for Saint Michael’s Medical Center.
The hospital has been forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because of the state’s odd decision to drag its feet for three years and delay the sensible sale to Prime Healthcare.
In passing the resolution, we demonstrated our strong concern about the future of the 1,400 employees at the hospital, as well as the thousands of constituents who rely on the full-service hospital for quality, accessible medical care within a quick bus ride from their homes.
The coalition makes a painfully obvious argument about why Saint Michael’s should be sold to Prime Healthcare; the hospital supports more than $5 million in economic development throughout the Central Ward via its vendors, contractors and local business support.
My colleagues and I are struggling to understand why the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority is suddenly interested in bidding on the hospital when the hospital is auctioned off November 12. It’s an outrageous conflict of interest, as the state has been assigned to review Prime Healthcare’s application over the past three years.
Meanwhile, as the state has stymied the Saint Michael’s application, Prime Healthcare has quickly moved ahead with the purchase of Saint Mary’s in Passaic and Saint Clare’s Health System, which operates Saint Clare’s Hospital in Boonton, Saint Clare’s Hospital in Denville, Saint Clare’s Hospital in Dover and Saint Clare’s Health Center at Sussex, as well as other facilities in Morris and Sussex counties. Money is now being poured into these hospitals, while Saint Michael’s is stuck in this strange limbo that has wasted enormous time and money.
In fact, the only reason Saint Michael’s was forced to seek a Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in August was because the state refused to make a decision. And, because of this, Prime Healthcare must now compete against the state and other interested parties, all of whom must submit bids for the hospital by Tuesday, November 3.
In our resolution, the City Council is demanding the state withdraw its intention to bid on the hospital and immediately approve the sale of Saint Michael’s to Prime Healthcare, if a bankruptcy judge deems Prime Healthcare is the winning bidder on Nov. 12.
I am convinced that Saint Michael’s must remain open as a full service hospital, as Prime Healthcare plans.
Prime Healthcare has promised to hire all 1,400 current employees, invest $25 million into upgrading Saint Michael’s facilities, continue to operate within the Ethical and Religious Directives, and continue charity care practices.
Join me and my colleagues at 6 p.m. on November 2 at the Robert Treat Hotel, as a prayer rally is held by local ministers on the eve that bids will be submitted. We all need to pray for Saint Mike’s.
Luis Quintana is a councilman at large in Newark.