from various New Jersey state agencies to purchase Christ Hospital for $15.7 million. However, the company's track record in California and investigations into the management of its hospitals out west led to scrutiny of its attempt to buy Christ.
Christ President and CEO Peter Kelly, who as recently as this week sent letters to local residents advocating the sale of the hospital to Prime, could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon regarding Prime's decision.
However, Ann Twomey, president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees, the union that represents 400 nurses at Christ, said: "This welcome withdrawal of Prime Healthcare from its intended purchase of our community hospital represents a new opportunity to protect access to quality health care for our patients and residents. The Prime Healthcare purchase of Christ Hospital was always a bad deal for our community. Because of the determination of the nurses, the community, citizen groups and our elected officials, along with the serious scrutiny of our state agencies, the proper light was shed on the deal, and Prime Healthcare withdrew its bid. Christ Hospital management now has the opportunity to do the right thing - to find a buyer that will protect health care, maintain services and staffing, and provide access to care for all of our residents - and to establish a process that is open, transparent and accountable to the community."
The owners of two other area hospitals had in recent months offered to purchase Christ Hospital for much higher prices than what was being offered by Prime. Last week, Jersey City Medical Center and Community Healthcare Assoc. offered to buy the hospital for $100.4 million, and in December Hudson
Holdco., which owns Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center, offered to buy Christ for $91.6 million, an offer that was immediately rejected by Christ.
When asked whether Christ would seriously consider the latest offer from Jersey City Medical Center and Community Healthcare Assoc., hospital spokesman Paul Hebert said last week, "With regard to the proposal submitted by Jersey City Medical Center and CHA, we are in receipt of the proposal and still in the process of reviewing it. We have no further comment at this time."
At present, it is unclear whether the withdrawal of Prime's offer will affect the willingness of Christ Hospital to consider offers from other prospective buyers. Residents, community activists, and several public officials have expressed concerns over Prime Healthcare Services and have tried to pressure Kelly and Christ Hospital's board to consider other potential buyers. - E. Assata Wright