Chief Operating Officer Marvin Apsel notified BMC physicians and all department heads of this development through letters that were mailed on Jan. 17.
This is part of a larger program to reduce costs and close a significant budget gap, said Paul Swibinski, spokesperson for BMC.
But the hospital has contacted several local taxi companies servicing Bayonne and the community in order to help provide transportation alternatives for patients to and from BMC.
Apsel said several companies have expressed their willingness to meet the routines and in some cases meet the needs of the patients' transportation requirements to and from BMC, and who have offered discounts to senior citizens and disabled people.
"If you choose to have a cab company provide your transportation, please discuss the availability of special pricing," Apsel said in his letter to outpatients. "Public transportation via buses is an additional option for you and there are regular stops on Broadway in close proximity to BMC."
Apsel also said patients driving to BMC can use the BMC garage which has rates that are similar to rates of other area hospitals.
BMC has been in contact with the mayor's office to alert the Bayonne Office on Aging and BEOF that their own free transportation programs may see an increase in calls. The Hudson County Transcend program is also being notified.
Apsel's letter gave patients numbers for the cab companies, the BEOF, the city's Office on Aging and Transend.
"If you require further assistance in arranging for transportation please speak with the department manager in which you are receiving service," Apsel's letter suggested.
The notice is the latest chapter in an ongoing saga involving revenue shortfalls at BMC. Hospital officials acknowledged in December that revenues had declined by $12 million, forcing the hospital to take steps to meet the financial needs last year and to avoid a similar shortfall in 2007.
But the cutback of transportation follows a series of other cutbacks starting early in 2006 that including elimination of the senior citizen center, the suspension of birthing services and the laying off of more than 130 employees.
In early January, BMC Board of Trustees agreed to allow an independent review of the finances under pressure from union officials and members of the community.
Mayor Joseph Doria brokered the deal helping to ease previously escalating tensions resulting from the cuts and unanswered questions.
Doria called it the first step in a cooperative endeavor to ensure BMC's continuity of service to the people of Bayonne.
"It will also ensure the financial stability of the institution and cooperation between the Coalition to Save Bayonne Medical Center," Doria said.
Members of the Coalition to Save Bayonne Medical Center have also been pushing to get the board to expand its membership to include two members of the coalition, Doctors Barry Elkin and Tobi Ippolito.
"It is vital that the leadership of the BMC board include physicians who believe in transparency and accountability to this community," Ippolito said. "Trust in decision-making of this board is essential."
Jeanne Otersen, a member of the coalition and spokesperson for the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union was concerned about the most recent announcement.
"We would have expected BMC to alert and inform the community of any proposed reductions in services and would delay any changes until the financial review is completed," she said.
The review is expected to be started shortly and completed within 30 days, allowing the public a better view of the problems the hospital faces.
The HPAE local represents about 1,000 health professionals and workers at BMC.
Stacy Miceli Harris, also of the HPAE, said seniors would suffer most from the recent change in transportation.
"The latest victim in this unfortunate situation known as Bayonne Medical Center is the elderly population of Bayonne," Harris said. "Most seniors rely on this service and we believe that the elimination of it will add to a delay in the delivery of care these seniors need and deserve. We also believe that the elimination of this service will result in increased cost in areas such as Same Day Surgery, Radiology, and other out patient procedures, since cases may be delayed pending the release of patients waiting for transportation."