St. Francis Hospital received final approval from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to drop the "Hospital" from its name.
By granting a "certificate of need," the state has approved the "discontinuance of St. Francis as a general hospital, including 142 medical/surgical, 20 pediatric, 17 ICU/CCU, 17 psychiatric, and 12 sub-acute beds." The state department voted unanimously in favor of issuing the certificate. This means all in-patient services will be eliminated in the next few weeks.
However, St. Francis will retain its emergency department and its 34-bed rehabilitation unit.
"We have about 20 patients now," said Joan Quigley, a spokesperson for Bon Secours. "We are expecting that the patients who are currently here will be discharged in a couple of weeks. At the end of this month, we will stop accepting new patients."
Besides maintaining some emergency room services, the facility will allow the Franciscan Home & Rehabilitation Center to move in, providing 143 beds for senior citizens.
Some residents in the immediate vicinity of St. Francis expressed disapproval over the move because of the convenience of having a hospital next door. However, officials from the health care system argued that there are three other hospitals within a mile radius of St. Francis.
As a Satellite Emergency Department, patients in need of emergency care at St. Francis will receive the same medical treatment, but will be transported to another hospital if their condition requires them to stay overnight. St. Francis will provide transportation for patients and their family members to another Bon Secours and Canterbury Partnership facility.
Changing health care system
Efforts to reduce the facilities at St. Francis emerged in response to the partnership formed between Bon Secours and the Christ Hospital in March, forming the Bon Secours and Canterbury Partnership for Care. St. Mary Hospital in Hoboken is also a part of this health care system that is consolidating its resources amidst a changing market place.
In July, the Department of Health and Senior Services held a public forum at Ferris High School to hear how the proposed plan was being accepted by the community. Although the Health Care and Hospital Workers district 1199-J and a few residents argued against it, nearly everyone who spoke was affiliated with the Bon Secours & Canterbury Partnership health care system and in favor of the plan.
The decreasing number of in-patients in the last decade has occurred in response to managed care plans that dissuade expensive overnight stays in hospitals, and new technology that has spurred quicker recoveries, according to Vice President of Post Acute Services Ira Hammer.
From 1996 to 2000, St. Francis lost $19.8 million, said Sean O'Rourke, the chief financial officer of Bon Secours & Canterbury Partnership for Care.
Assuring the state and residents present at the meeting that hospital care is still within reach, Bon Secours and Canterbury Partnership for Care reiterated Jersey City's proximity to nine hospitals other than St. Francis, with Christ Hospital less than a mile away and St. Mary slightly more than a mile.
John T. Shea, CEO of Bon Secours and Canterbury Partnership, said that there is plenty of room in Christ and St. Mary Hospitals for patients who want to continue receiving care from the same health care system. All physicians affiliated with St. Francis Hospital are also affiliated with Christ and St. Mary Hospitals and can admit patients to those facilities.