JERSEY CITY, NJ - In an effort to make certain that Hudson County retains adequate hospitals for its residents, the Hudson County Freeholders unanimously voted to authorize the Hudson County Improvement Authority to use eminent domain if necessary, to purchase properties in Bayonne, Jersey City and Hoboken.
This comes at a time when CarePoint Health has found new operators to take over its three hospitals, but has run into a conflict with Avery Eisenriech, owner of Alaris Health, who owns all or a portion of property on which the hospitals are located.
The Bayonne City Council voted last week to rezone the three parcels on which Bayonne Medical Center is located for exclusive use as an acute care facility despite a lawsuit from Eisenriech seeking to stop them. The rezoning along with an agreement between Bayonne and the HCIA sets the stage for a potential condemnation of the land by the HCIA.
“Avery Eisenriech insists on blocking the sale of Bayonne Medical Center to a private bidder committed to maintaining it as an acute care hospital for the people of Bayonne,” said Freeholder Kenneth Kopacz, who represents Bayonne. “He is picking a fight in the wrong town. For me and for the people I represent on the Board of Freeholders, this fight is personal. And we are not going to back down to a shady nursing home operator who thinks he is going to close our hospital so he can build another sloppily run profit center or demand such a ridiculous windfall for selling out that it will financially cripple the Bayonne Medical Center in order to be free of him.”
Eisenriech owns the property on which Bayonne Medical Center operates as well as 70 percent of the Hoboken University Medical Center’s property and a 25 percent stake in both HUMC and Christ Hospital.
“He also has blocked for months the sale of these two hospitals to RJW Barnabas Health as part of a separate deal that would allow these hospitals to go on serving the community,” Kopacz said. “It is clear his goal is to place his own profit over the health and safety of the people of Bayonne, Hoboken and Jersey City.”
While officials believe that there may still be an opportunity for a negotiated settlement with Eisenriech in regard to Hoboken University Hospital and Christ Hospital in Jersey City, the situation with Bayonne Medical Center is dire.
“Bayonne is growing by leaps and bounds,” Kopacz said. “Our new population, new energy and new growth requires improving crucial services like health care, not weakening them because one man’s greed can’t be satisfied. I urge my colleagues on the Board of Freeholders to support this resolution to do just that.”
County Executive Tom DeGise said the Bayonne situation is unique because the city is a peninsula and the need for a hospital there is critical. “If someone needs urgent care, they will have to go to Jersey City or to Staten Island,” DeGise said, noting that the delay could be the difference between life and death.
He said the situation has become even more dire in the current COVID-19 pandemic climate.
After discussing the matter with the mayors of Bayonne, Hoboken and Jersey City, DeGise said he believed the use of eminent domain is in the interest of the health and well-being of the residents of the county.
“I’ve been told that the buyers of the hospitals do not want Avery as their landlord,” DeGise said. “He has a poor reputation as a profiteer and if he won’t give in and sell the property, then we would be forced to condemn the property and take it under eminent domain. We do not want to go into the hospital business. But we want a reputable owner who will have the best interests of the community in mind.”
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