This letter to the editor from the Christ Hospital President and CEO appeared in the November 29th edition of the Jersey Journal and the December 4th edition of the Jersey City Reporter.
Like most hospitals across our state, Christ Hospital struggles on a daily basis to find the resources necessary to continue to meet the growing demand for healthcare services amid unprecedented economic challenges. To remain steadfast in our commitment to those we serve, and to ensure financial viability both now and in the future, we simply must take a new approach.
Not long ago, I announced the pending sale of Christ Hospital to Prime Healthcare Services. This proposed transfer of ownership will not change Christ Hospital’s identity. It will, however, give us the resources and stability we desperately need to survive. Let there be no mistake. Christ Hospital will close if this sale is not approved. Hundreds of employees will lose their jobs, and an under-served community will lose a safety-net acute care facility.
Much has been said and written about Prime Healthcare in recent weeks. Many of these statements have been either inaccurate or utterly false and misleading. Here are the facts: Prime Healthcare Services has been recognized by independent experts for its excellence in patient care delivery, particularly in the area of charity care. In 2009 Thomson Reuters, ranked Prime as one of the Top 10 health systems out of more than 252 it surveyed nationwide — the only for-profit hospital on this select list. Also in 2009, five Prime Hospitals were ranked in the top 100 hospitals in the country for value by Data Advantage LLC, a national patient satisfaction survey organization now a part of the Press Ganey Organization, for value in the entire State of California. Most recently in September of this year The Joint Commission, an accrediting body responsible for measuring the quality of care provided by hospitals on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recognized and honored 405 of the 5,800 hospitals in the United States, for being top Performers on the Joint Commission Key Quality Measures program. Nine of the twelve Prime Healthcare hospitals were included in this group. In New Jersey, 12 hospitals were recognized, including Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Saint Barnabas Medical Center.
Some have claimed that a sale to Prime would jeopardize the charity care delivery that is a hallmark of Christ Hospital. Once again here, the facts speak louder than the rhetoric. California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), which contains publicly available data on every hospital in that state, shows that Prime’s (12) for-profit hospitals provided nearly $285 million in charity care in 2010 and 2009. When two non-profit hospitals, like Christ Hospital, were acquired by Prime and converted to for-profit status — Sherman Oaks Hospital and Paradise Valley Hospital — Prime not only met the charity care level each facility previously had delivered, but exceeded it by millions of dollars annually.
Those who would cavalierly oppose this transfer of ownership, without benefit of these and other relevant data, must understand the consequences of their opposition. This sale will preserve the existence of an essential acute care facility for years to come and continue to improve the quality of care provided to our patients. It will protect hundreds upon hundreds of jobs in our community, and create many more jobs for local small businesses through new investments not currently possible. It will produce millions of dollars in new tax revenue for the City of Jersey City, relieving some of the tax burden from local homeowners. It will keep the doors open to an emergency room that provided nearly 50,000 visits last year. In fact the first investment by Prime Healthcare in Christ Hospital will be an expansion of our emergency room, which was designed 20 years ago to treat 19,000 patients’ visits annually and currently sees nearly 50,000 patient visits annually. It will allow Christ Hospital to become far less reliant on State funding during these challenging budget times in Trenton. It will ensure radiation therapy treatments, cancer screenings and behavioral health services not readily available elsewhere in the region continue to be delivered, uninterrupted.
Christ Hospital has been a central part of Hudson County for nearly 140 years. Our mission is the same today as the day we were founded; to provide the finest healthcare possible to all patients regardless of race, creed, national origin or ability to pay. One should not assume that the transition to a for-profit model will result in the diminution of services. In fact, the complimentary and important role that for-profit hospitals can play in addressing the hospital funding crisis is being acknowledged, most recently in New York State and other states, across the nation. The sale of Christ Hospital to Prime Healthcare will allow for the cost effective, efficient and quality delivery of care to be sustained in our community now and into the future. As such, it is squarely in the best interests of our employees, our City and our patients that this sale moves forward.
It deserves your support.
Peter A. Kelly
President and CEO