JERSEY CITY AND BEYOND - Christ Hospital in Jersey City has announced that Prime Healthcare Services, a California-based for-profit healthcare company, has struck a deal to buy the medical facility.
The deal must still be approved by the Office of the State Attorney General, the Department of Health and Senior Services, and the State Health planning Board, a process that could take the months to be completed.
If it is approved by the state, the nonprofit Christ Hospital will follow in the footsteps of three other Hudson County medical facilities that have been sold to for-profit companies.
There are six hospitals in Hudson County. The only two Hudson County hospitals not being sold (or already sold) to non-profit owners would be Palisades in North Bergen and Jersey City Medical Center in that city.
Last year, the for-profit MHA, LLC purchased Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus after months-long scrutiny by the state. And HUMC Holdco, LLC is currently in the process of purchasing Hoboken University Medical Center.
The group of investors behind HUMC Holdco previously purchased Bayonne Medical Center.
Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center and Bayonne Medical Center had previously been nonprofit entities, as is Hoboken University Medical Center.
If the state approves HUMC Holdco's purchase of the Hoboken hospital, it will be the third in the county to become a for-profit. Christ Hospital would become the fourth.
In each instance, the nonprofit hospitals were put up for sale because they were operating in the red and losing millions of dollars a year.
In the case of Christ Hospital, the facility is reportedly losing as much as $4 million annually.
Communities and hospital workers' unions have eyed such deals with caution, fearing that the for-profit companies may eliminate money-losing medical services and replacing them with services that generate higher profits.
Consumers have also wondered whether the for-profits will sever ties with health insurance companies or discontinue acute care medical services. In fact, earlier this year, MHA cut ties with Empire BlueCross BlueShield. Bayonne Medical dropped its contracts with some insurance carriers, forcing patients to go elsewhere for medical service Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center and Bayonne Medical Center have continued to be acute care hospitals, even after the sale to for-profit companies. - E. Assata Wright