HOBOKEN -- The CEO of the beleaguered Hoboken University Medical Center answered questions from the City Council at its meeting Monday night.
The hospital has had financial difficulties on and off since the city saved it from closing four years ago by voting to guarantee $52 million in bonds.
Monday night, new CEO Spiros Hatiras said that the hospital is counting on more state aid to keep it running smoothly. He said that he believes the hospital deserves a one-shot cash infusion.
But councilwoman Beth Mason and Carol Marsh were concerned and fired tough questions on Hatiras. Mason has been pushing for financial disclosure from the hospital for some time.
"I can fix this," Hatiras promised "with your support."
For background on the recent problems, read here.
Councilman Michael Russo said the city will fight as much as possible to keep the hospital open. He also said that he likes Hatiras' idea of canceling contracts with certain health insurance providers as Bayonne Hospital did, in order to negotiate better rates. But Haritas noted that while it might be beneficial, it also could cause some "disruption in the community."
Hatiras said the hospital has to continue to work on quality.
"We've got to build up this place to the point where people trust it, they come to it."
He also alluded to a possibility affiliation with another hospital.
Council Vice President Peter Cunningham said the city and hospital board should work on a "contingency plan."
Mason talked about outside consultants that have turned hospitals around. Haritas said he didn't put much stock in those companies.
"How many troubled health care agencies have you turned around?" Mason asked him.
"Zero," he said.
Council members agreed to keep meeting with hospital officials about this important issue. The questioning ended around 8:40 p.m. and the council took a recess, then planned to resume to talk about other issues.