BAYONNE, NJ - In a move that some city officials believe will exacerbate the legal wrangling surrounding control of Bayonne Medical Center operations, Hudson Regional Hospital (HRH) announced that it has closed on the purchase of the Bayonne property.
The $76 million purchase comes at a time when Hudson County is moving towards condemning the property in anticipation of a possible use of eminent domain in order to eventually allow BMC Hospital LLC to take over operations.
“This is more than interesting to say the least,” said Bayonne’s Law Direct Jay Coffey said. “We will have to analyze the particulars of the sale once we are made aware of it.” Earlier this year HRH and BMC Hospital LLC both submitted bids to CarePoint Health for the purchase of the operations.
When CarePoint awarded the bid to BMC Hospital LLC, Hudson Regional announced that it had purchased the property and began to petition the state Health Department to award them licenses to take over operations. BMC LLC made the same request – hoping to fast track the permit process in its own favor. But the state denied the motion, forcing BMC Hospital LLC to seek permits through a longer process.
According to representatives from HRH, a ruling by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Jablonski last month allowed their side to move ahead with their purchase. But the court also allowed a lawsuit by BMC Hospital LLC to halt the sale to continue.
CarePoint Health currently operates Bayonne Medical Center and announced last year that as a result of its continued financial losses, it will sell the operation.
Hudson Regional argued that CarePoint handpicked BMC Hospital LLC despite financial questions raised in a State Commission of Investigation report and that their adversary in the transaction does not comply with Department of Health regulations to gain a hospital license because it does not own or control the property where the more than 100 year old hospital is located.
City and county officials, who have sided with BMC Hospital LLC, have taken a number of actions, including asking the county to condemn the property. Some city officials claim the $76 million purchase price may far exceed the actual value of the property and may be an attempt by HRH to inflate the value of the property.
“But it won’t work if they are,” said one city official. “The property will be assessed based on current market value, not the price of this purchase.”
In making the announcement of the closing on the property, HRH said it has also resubmitted a competitive binding offer with proof of funds to purchase the hospital operations.
“HRH is the natural next operator of Bayonne Medical Center, and we look forward to a response from CarePoint to our offer,” says Dr. Nizar Kifaieh, CEO of Hudson Regional Hospital. “HRH has an exemplary record with the New Jersey Department of Health and with this acquisition is well-positioned to create a premier network of acute care facilities in Hudson County.”
In their release on the sale, HRH touted itself as one of the few profitable independent hospitals in Hudson County. “It is also well-capitalized, having invested more than $20 million in improvements to the former Meadowlands Hospital, which this year was named a Top Hospital with 8 Top Doctors by Castle Connolly and received the prestigious Excellence Award from the Surgical Review Corporation,” the release said.
Seeking to exploit the fact that CarePoint has often been in conflict with major insurance providers, and only recently has reestablished in-network rates with some providers, HRH said it contracts with insurance providers that cover 95 percent of New Jerseyans.
“As operator of Bayonne Medical Center, HRH provides a 100 percent privately-funded solution without the need for any taxpayer dollars,” the release said. HRH said it is also under contract to acquire the Hoboken University Medical Center real estate and has submitted a bid proposal to CarePoint for operations of that hospital as well.
HRH officials believe owning the property of these hospitals puts it in a better position in the eyes of the state as a potential operator. “Only HRH can merge the operations with the ownership of the real estate, providing the stability and continuity the local residents, and all employees of Bayonne Medical Center deserve,” said Kifaieh. “Provided our offer to operate at Bayonne is accepted, we pledge to make similar physical plant improvements at Bayonne that we implemented at Hudson Regional Hospital, which promises to not only improve the quality of acute-care in Bayonne, but also expand on the service offerings.”
“Additionally, we are firmly committed to offering all current staff members – who are all heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic like their counterparts at Hudson Regional – employment on a go-forward basis, on similar terms that CarePoint is currently offering. We have an experienced transition team that is ready to step in at a moment’s notice without any interruption of care that will work alongside the Bayonne Medical Center team and provide the support needed.”
Although Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis and other officials have come out on behalf of BMC Hospital LLC, Dr. Kifaieh expressed HRH’s appreciation for all the work done by the city administration as they continue to focus on the critical needs of the Bayonne community, and said that he looks forward to their support while HRH continues to build out its acute-care network in Hudson County.
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