TRENTON – The mission of Christ Hospital in Jersey City is to serve underprivileged patients just as it would privileged ones. But the hospital is in the process of being sold to a California-based for-profit manager, which is prompting a rebuke from a state watchdog group worried that patient care will deteriorate.
“It’s our hospital. It’s been a pillar of the community for nearly 140 years,” said Jersey City resident Paulette Eberle, co-chair of New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA), the state’s largest citizen watchdog coalition. The group launched a petition drive this week to inform residents and build resistance to the sale of the facility. “We need to make sure decisions are made with the input of residents instead of behind closed doors,” she said in a release.
The hospital is entertaining a purchase offer from Prime Healthcare, a California for-profit hospital chain that, according to the NJCA, is currently under investigation for questionable patient care and billing practices.
NJCA Executive Director Phyllis Salowe-Kaye said, “Citizen Action has a long history of working with communities to preserve quality care at neighborhood hospitals when they are preyed upon by these for-profit hospital chains.”
The group is working with unionized nurses, community groups, and local elected officials on the petition drive. They intend to present the petitions to the N.J. Attorney General and Commissioner of Health and Senior Services with three requests: 1. Scrutiny of the sale, including whether Christ Hospital considered potential non-profit buyers or sought community input; 2. Consideration of Prime Healthcare’s questionable patient care and billing practices; 3. Assurance that a full-service, acute care hospital will remain and that working conditions and hospital employee rights are protected.
“Since Registered Nurses learned of the proposed sale, we have been advocating to protect our hospital services and jobs for our community,” said Nicole Mankowski, RN and president of HPAE Local 5186, representing 400 RN’s at Christ Hospital. “We are encouraged to see community leaders, advocacy groups and elected officials coming together to protect our community hospital.”