Municipal Hospital Authority


Conflicts of Interest for Municipal Officials In New Jersey

Some of the requirements of the Local Government Ethics Law, set forth at N.J.S.A. 40A: 9-22.1 et seq., are relatively straightforward and easy to understand. Local public officials must file financial disclosure statements under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.6, and members of independent authorities cannot do business with or appear before those authorities for a year after they leave the body under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(b).

However, perhaps the central concept of this law, enacted in 1991 to restore and preserve the public trust in local government, is far less clear. Exactly what type of interest must an official have in a given issue to create a conflict sufficient to prevent him or her from participating in any decisions concerning the matter?

UPDATE: APRIL 20, 2012, Mecka vs. Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

Excerpts from Mecka vs. Hudson Healthcare, Inc., filed April 10, 2012 Hudson County Superior Court by attorney Walter Luers, LLC, Clinton, New Jersey.  

UPDATE: MARCH 19, 2012, OPRA Request Filed with Hoboken University Medical Center’s Former Manager, Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

Attorney Richard Gutman replied to HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC.’s denial of my February 24, 2012 OPRA request.  It is our legal position that the CITY OF HOBOKEN created the private non-profit HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. to manage HOBOKEN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER for the HOBOKEN MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY.   Supreme Court of New Jersey, The TIMES OF TRENTON PUBLISHING CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. LAFAYETTE YARD COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellant.

We are confident that, if necessary, the Courts will rule that the non-profit HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. is subject to the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.

Hoboken Hospital Bankruptcy Lawyers awarded $1,083,941.77 for August through October “first interim allowances”

On December 7, 2011, the United States Bankruptcy Court District of New Jersey signed an order granting the first interim allowance to the law firm representing HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. “HHI”, the bankrupt non-profit private corporation “manager” of Hoboken University Medical Center. 

HHI’s bankruptcy counsel TRENK, DiPASQUALE, WEBSTER, DELLA FERA & SODONO, P.C. was awarded $1,083,941.77 representing fees and expenses for the “First Interim Fee Application for the Period August 1, 2011 through October 31, 2011.”

During the bankruptcy process, newspapers and political blogs have reported allegations of bankruptcy fraud with respect to HHI and the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority. 

Helen Hirsch: City’s lack of transparency leaves questions

Mayor Zimmer who, with promises of reform, has waved the banner of openness and integrity, has used every technique and opacity of secrecy in the book to hide the facts concerning the choice of the owners of the Bayonne University Medical Center as the only possible candidates as purchasers of HUMC.

When she became involved in the Hoboken Hospital Authority she did nothing to pull the raps of the organization which was established to outwit the legal requirements of a public body to make operations open to the public. She continues this code of secrecy to this day.

Hoboken University Medical Center Nurse’s Union JNESO Files Objection in Hudson Healthcare Inc Bankruptcy

JNESO, District Council 1, IUOE, AFL-CIO (“JNESO”) , the union representing nurses at Hoboken University Medical Center, filed an Objection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to the two (2) Motions filed by the Debtor,  Hudson Healthcare, Inc. (the “Hudson”)

Hoboken Reporter: Company that wants to buy Hoboken's hospital says mayor 'misrepresented' them by releasing outdated proposal to the public

As the city of Hoboken works out a bankruptcy agreement for Hoboken University Medical Center so that they may sell it to a private company called HUMC Holdco, Mayor Dawn Zimmer's detractors have said that other bidders have given proposals to buy the hospital, and that perhaps they should have been considered.

Yesterday, Mayor Dawn Zimmer released a response, saying that two of the proposals - from Jersey City Medical Center, and from a company called P3 - were not as good as the current bid from HUMC Holdco, for a variety of reasons.

Those proposals are posted on the city website.

When contacted by the Reporter, Jersey City Medical Center declined to comment. But P3 offered a comment late on Thursday afternoon.

They said that the proposal that Zimmer posted was outdated, and that unlike Holdco, they would run the facility as a nonprofit and keep it for health care "in perpetuity." Holdco has given a guarantee for seven years.

For-profit hospitals discussed in Trenton, Hearing draws testimony from Meadowlands CEO; Hoboken head absent

Hudson County hospitals were front and center at a state Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Senate subcommittee meeting on Monday that focused on for-profit hospitals in New Jersey.

The hearing came just days after allegations of bankruptcy fraud were made against Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC), and on the same day it was reported in The Star Ledger that Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus charges up to 3,000 percent higher for certain procedures by using a loophole in the medical system.

In Hudson County and across the country, failing hospitals are being bought by companies that try to turn a profit at these formerly non-profit institutions. But some worry that patient care will suffer as a result.

Jarrett Renshaw: Owners of Bayonne Medical Center spent $350K on lobbyists and political campaigns in past 2 years, records show

The ownership group of Bayonne Medical Center may be as well versed in the art of Trenton politics as it is in medicine.

Facing legislative calls for increased oversight of for-profit hospitals as it pursues a controversial deal at Hoboken University Medical Center, the group has spent more than $350,000 in the past two years on political campaigns and high-powered lobbyists to make their case at the Statehouse, records show.

The Bayonne hospital paid Rosemont Associates, a lobbying firm that employs former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) to help convince the chairmen of the state legislative budget committees to support an $11 million earmark to ease the sale of the Hoboken University Medical Center, records show.

N.J. lawmakers seek to strengthen law requiring attorney general to oversee transfer of non-profit hospitals

Two key Democratic lawmakers are planning to strengthen a law that requires the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to oversee the transfer of non-profit hospitals.

The move comes after the proposed sale of the Hoboken University Medical Center escaped the stringent review by successfully arguing that its status as a city-run hospital exempts it from the Community Healthcare Assets Protection Act, or CHOPA.

Under the law, the attorney general’s reviews all aspects of the sale of non-profit hospital, including whether the seller is getting fair market value, ensuring conflicts of interest are disclosed, the bidding process is fair and a host of items designed to protect the public. A superior court judge must also give their final opinion on the sale.

One of the major criticisms of the Hoboken sale has been the lack of transparency. Among other items, the public has yet to see the applications of the other bidders beside the successful one — the ownership group of the Bayonne Medical Center. Council members were just provided the financial statements of the hospital Wednesday.

New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority Approves $2.5M loan to Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority

The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority has requested a $2.5 million loan from the Authority to fund the continued operations of the Hoboken University Medical Center (“HUMC”), which is currently owned by HMHA, until the planned sale of HUMC to a company known as HUMC Holdco can be completed. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of September 2011. The loan will be secured by a subordinated pledge of the Revenues of HMHA, including an $11 million State appropriation to HMHA, which will not be available to HMHA until the sale is closed. The loan will be made from the Authority’s fund balance, which is currently over $4 million.

Nurses union JNESO District Council 1 subpoena's documents from Official Committee of Secured Creditors in Hoboken hospital bankruptcy

On Saturday, September 24, 2011, JNESO District Council 1, a union representing several hundred nurses employed by the Hudson Healthcare, Inc. Debtor at the Hoboken University Medical Center, issued a subpoena to Sills Cummis & Gross P.C., counsel for the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of the Debtor.

JNESO is seeking copies of all deposition transcripts in the Bankruptcy Case and  all documents produced to the Committee by the Debtor, the Authority, the proposed purchaser of the Hospital, or the City of Hoboken.

CEO of Jersey City Medical Center is willing to buy troubled Hoboken hospital if bankruptcy negotiations collapse

The CEO of the Jersey City Medical Center has reached out to state and local officials to let them know he is still willing to buy the Hoboken University Medical Center if bankruptcy settlement negotiations falter and the proposed sale collapses.

Joe Scott, CEO of Jersey City Medical Center, said he contacted Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the state Department of Health and Senior Services Thursday morning just hours after Hoboken City Council rejected a last-minute effort to salvage negotiations.

Minutes after the vote, Zimmer said the oldest hospital in the state would close and roughly 1,300 people would lose their jobs.

"I let them know we stand ready to do whatever it takes to ensure there is a organized transition with the hospital if this deal falls apart,'' Scott said. "We have a partner willing to buy the hospital and placed a bid…We were going to lease space from them.''

Audio of Senator Weinberg's Hospital Privatization Hearing

On Monday, September 21, 2011, New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-District 37), chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee held a hearing on the growing concerns of Hospital Privatization issues.

After reading press accounts about an attorney working for the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Arthority who said in a filed certification to the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey;

"During the period of retention, which ended on July 15,2011, I was a firsthand witness to apattern of conduct by HMHA members to intimidate, threaten, control, abuse, and attempt to force the CEO of HHI and members of the HHI Board to take actions adverse to its charter and otherwise to violate the laws of the State of New Jersey."

Weinberg requested an investigation by United States Attorney, District of New Jersey and the New Jersey State Attorney General.

U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey on behalf of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority that they are not in bankruptcy and therefore not the Debtor

The U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey on behalf of the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (“the Secretary”) submitted a Federal Bankruptcy filing to apprise the Purchaser and other interested parties of the consequences surrounding the Purchaser’s acceptance of the Provider Agreement or,alternatively, the Purchaser’s rejection of any such assignment and the Secretary’s opposition to anyattempt to transfer the Hospital’s Medicare Provider Agreement without successor liability.

"Moreover, because the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority (and therefore, not the Debtor) is the holder of the Medicare Provider Agreement and is not in bankruptcy, any transaction regarding the transfer of its Provider Agreement with the Secretary must take place outside the scope of this court’s jurisdiction."

In related events, more than one creditor listed by Hoboken Healthcare, Inc. Debtor have filed OBJECTION TO THE DEBTOR’S MOTION FOR ENTRY OF AN ORDER APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND COMPROMISE claiming they have a valid, binding claim directly against the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority, a non-debtor, based upon a contract with the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority. 


Asleep at the switch as Hoboken University Medical Center was spending money it did not have and incorrectly assumed the city would pick up the difference.

The September 19, 2011 published headline said it all “Lawyer from Hoboken Hospital Authority says critics are wrong about events that led to hospital's bankruptcy filing.”

A lawyer with the Hoboken Hospital Authority says critics are purposefully mischaracterizing the events leading up to the bankruptcy of the city’s hospital to further their own agenda.

In the most detailed defense of allegations that the city-backed authority pushed the hospital into bankruptcy, the authority’s attorney Ken Rosen said the hospital was spending money it did not have and incorrectly assumed the city would pick up the difference.

Hoboken University Hospital creditors want more than $10M to allow for its sale

Creditors are seeking more than $10 million from Hoboken University Hospital as a part of a broad bankruptcy settlement that would allow for the sale of the cash-strapped facility, according to sources with knowledge of the ongoing negotiations. 

However, the city is reluctant to pick up the extra costs, inching the hospital closer to shutting it doors, according to sources who asked for anonymity because they did not want to disrupt ongoing negotiations.   

Officials with the creditors committee, the city and its hospital held a seven-hour negotiating session Monday in hopes of settling the bankruptcy dispute before a pivotal hearing on Thursday, according to sources.

State Senator Loretta Weinberg requests investigation of fraud allegations against Hoboken University Hospital

A state senator has asked the U.S. Attorney and the state Attorney General to investigate allegations of fraud raised by the former attorney of Hoboken University Hospital before the state decides whether its pending sale can move forward.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) sent letters to U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and state Attorney Paula Dow asking them to probe charges by Donald Scarinci, who resigned as the hospital’s attorney two weeks before it filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 1.

In court papers, Scarinci said he quit because the city-backed authority created to oversee the hospital withheld millions in contractual payments to help make it appear it was in duress and push it into bankruptcy. The ultimate goal, he said, was to ensure an investment group that owns the Bayonne Medical Center gets to purchase the hospital. The group wants to buy the hospital for $65 million and convert it to a private facility.

Mayor Zimmer, Criminal Allegations against Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority Require Investigation

Donald Scarinci, Esq.

To be honest, I don't give a flying fcuk who buys Hoboken University Medical Center, nor do I care about the day to day jousting between Mayor Zimmer and the Anti-Zimmer foes. 

But what really gets my attention are allegations of criminal misbehavior made by an “officer” of the Court against the Hoboken Hospital Municipal Authority with respect to their overseeing of the Hoboken University Medical Center.

Court Documents Show "Hoboken University Hospital lawyer resigned because he was afraid city was committing fraud"

The Star Ledger reported that "the attorney for Hoboken University Hospital says he resigned in July because he feared the city was committing fraud by engineering the bankruptcy of its hospital."

"During the period of retention, which ended on July 15,2011, I was a firsthand witness to a pattern of conduct by HMHA members to intimidate, threaten, control, abuse, and attempt to force the CEO of HHI and members of the HHI Board to take actions adverse to its charter and otherwise to violate the laws of the State of New Jersey."

In court documents filed September 13, 2011 by Joseph J. DiPasquale of TRENK, DIPASQUALE, WEBSTER, DELLA FERA & SODONO, P.C., Attorneys for Hudson Healthcare, Inc., Debtor,  claim "the Creditors' Committee and Donald Scarinci, Esq. concede that they met on August 25, 2011 at Scarinci & Hollenbeck's office without any notice to the Debtor and for the sole purpose of obtaining information concerning Scarinci's former client, the Debtor.   Scarinci & Hollenbeck, was the general counsel for the hospital and its board from 2009 until July 16, about two weeks before the facility filed for bankruptcy.

North Hudson Sewage Authority says City of Hoboken responsible for $ 473,517.00 past due Hospital sewage charges

In a continuing case of déjà vu, it looks like the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority may have once again exposed the Hoboken taxpayers to legal liabilities associated with the Hudson Healthcare, Inc. bankruptcy.

In a September 13, 2011 Federal Bankruptcy Court filing, the North Hudson Sewage Authority asserts that the HOBOKEN MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY is responsible for unpaid sewage charges in excess of $ 473,517.00.

Olympus America Inc. claims a valid, binding $ 372,861.08 + claim directly against the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority (City of Hoboken)

As the wheels of justice slowly turn, new filings in the Hudson Healthcare, Inc. bankruptcy case continue to bring eye-opening insight into the troubled finances of the Hoboken University Medical Center and the oversight of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority.

In court papers filed September 13, 2011 in Federal Bankruptcy Court, Olympus America, Inc. asserted a valid, binding claim directly against the Hoboken University Hospital Authority, a non-debtor, based upon its contract with the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority.  If the Court agrees, the City of Hoboken may be responsible for payments in excess of $ 372,861.08.

Hoboken University Hospital chief executive received $600K severance package weeks before bankruptcy filing

Less than three weeks before the operator of the city-owned Hoboken University Hospital filed for bankruptcy — putting millions of dollars in taxpayer money and union pension funds at risk — the hospital’s chief executive received a six-figure payout, records show.

Spiros Hatiras, 46, stepped down as chief executive on July 16 after two years on the job with a severance package that includes:

  • $600,000 in compensation,
  • full medical benefits for a year,
  • and stipulated that the hospital authority will pay all of Hatiras’s legal expenses stemming from the agreement.

Hudson Healthcare, operator of Hoboken (N.J.) University Medical Center, top 20 unsecured creditors

Hudson Healthcare, operator of Hoboken (N.J.) University Medical Center, filed for bankruptcy on August 1, 2011.  As required by Federal Bankruptcy Rule 1007(d), the debtor is required to submit a list of the 20 largest unsecured claims.

Included in the list are claims from "PSE&G - $2,502,670",  "Hoboken Parking Authority - $1,007,740", "City of Hoboken - $903,638", "District 1199J, the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME, AFL-CIO - $1,055,045 and $494,417" and "Verizon - $306,647".

On August 9, 2011, the Jersey Journal reported that the former chief operating officer Spiros Hatiras will receive a $600,000 severance package from the Hoboken University Medical Center even though the agency that oversees the hospital is not obligated to pay it.  Hatiras, who resigned on July 14, was CEO for just two years.

Hoboken taxpayers on hook for $100,000 of severance package that HMHA wasn't obligated to pay

Former chief operating officer Spiros Hatiras will receive a $600,000 severance package from the Hoboken University Medical Center even though the agency that oversees the hospital is not obligated to pay it.

And what Hoboken taxpayers may find more appalling is that they are on the hook for $100,000 of that package. Hatiras, who resigned on July 14, was CEO for just two years.

According to a resolution approved by the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority, the city-created agency that oversees the city-owned hospital, new owners HUMC Holdco LLC are responsible for 80 percent, or $500,000, and the city is responsible for the remaining $100,000.

Hoboken University Medical Center: Bad hospital deal is being rushed

Right now the residents of Hoboken are facing a stark reality: the pending sale of the Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) to buyers with a poor track record in protecting jobs, maintaining needed community services, and providing quality healthcare services. This rushed, backroom deal should be prevented before Hoboken loses an asset it cannot replace. Applicable state law is already on the books to block this sale and start this process again to ensure more community input and transparency.

Hoboken University Medical Center CEO Spiros Hatiras resigns

Spiros Hatiras has stepped down as the chief operating officer at the Hoboken University Medical Center, Hoboken Now has learned.

The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority accepted his resignation last night at a meeting, hospital spokeswoman Joan Quigley said.

Hatiras' resignation comes as the city-owned hospital is in the process of being sold to the owners of the Bayonne Medical Center.

Vinnie Riccitelli, HUMC's chief financial officer, will be interim CEO until the sale is finalized. The sale is valued at $91 million -- $25 million earmarked for capital improvements and the balance going toward paying off the hospital's debt.

A petition has come out against Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer's plan to privatize the Hoboken University Medical Center to HUMC Holdco LLC, the same company that operates Bayonne Medical Center.

A petition has come out against Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer's plan to privatize the Hoboken University Medical Center to HUMC Holdco LLC, the same company that operates Bayonne Medical Center.

The petition was started by NJ Appleseed, a public interest law center. As of 1 p.m. Thursday, the petition has seven signatures.

"We believe the propose sale is likely to result in the deterioration in the quality, availability or accessibility of health services in Hoboken and other Hudson County communities," said 
Renee Steinhagen, executive director of NJ Appleseed.

The petition, which was sent to 22 state lawmakers including Governor Chris Christie and Zimmer, says that HUMC Holdco LLC does not value quality and affordable healthcare.

Steinhagen is looking for 100 signatures.

The petition states: "Based on the track record of Bayonne Medical Center including termination of nearly all insurance contracts, dramatic increases in the cost of in-patient care, and some of the lowest quality of care scores in the county, we believe that the process undertaken by the Authority has not provided the Hoboken community and stakeholders with the best option available."

City-owned Hoboken University Medical Center is listed for sale by principals "HUMC Holdco LLC" as "financing option" to afford hospital improvements

The city-owned Hoboken University Medical Center's land and building is for sale for $90 million, a real estate firm confirmed yesterday.

Manhattan-based Grubb & Ellis has the hospital listed as a "long term sale leaseback," meaning that the property and building would be sold and leased back to the business that is operating there: the hospital.

A representative from Grubb & Ellis would not divulge who listed it with them, although the listing says it is being sold by a private group.

Déjà vu all over again, Some see Hoboken hospital deal as history repeating itself

For some officials in Bayonne, the recent announcement by the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority Chairwoman Toni Tomarazzo that a private entity affiliated with Bayonne Medical Center is the final bidder in the process to purchase Hoboken University Medical Center is a bit of déjà vu.

“To tell you, I was a little alarmed when I heard it,” said former Councilman Gary La Pelusa, who was instrumental in providing city funds to help in the rescue of Bayonne Medical Center three years ago.

The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority, according to a member of the BMC transition team, entered into a non-binding agreement with HUMC Holdco LLC, one of the principal owners of BMC, late last week, beginning the process that could result in the purchase of the ailing Hoboken hospital, making it into a for-profit hospital modeled after BMC.

Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority OKs contract for legal counsel to review finances, appoints new board chairs

A resolution authorizing the contractual hiring of a special legal counsel to conduct a legal analysis of Hoboken University Medical Center’s finances squeaked through the board of directors on Wednesday night by a vote of 5-4. The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority held the monthly meeting in the hospital’s Assumption Hall.

The resolution was drafted and championed by Toni Tomarazzo, a commissioner who was appointed board chair by five votes early in the evening. The legal counsel, ideally a New Jersey-licensed lawyer with health care expertise, will be expected to oversee accounts payable, fiscal oversight and other hospital issues, Tomarazzo said. She said professional help is necessary for guiding the hospital along.

Hoboken University Medical Center On Life Support

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) is in serious financial trouble.  

In a letter dated August 21, 2009 to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, HUMC Chief Executive Officer Srliros Hatiras requested "stabilization" funding to avert an unfunded payroll situation.  Hatiras goes on to thank the State for providing funds twice within the past few months avoiding a simuliar scenario.

Hosp board selects Bado as director

Fred Bado, who recently retired as Hoboken's director of community development, has been offered the position of executive director of the Municipal Hospital Authority.

Bado, a non-practicing attorney who has no background in hospital administration, said he has not accepted the position yet and is currently talking with the board about the position.

"This is not a political plum - it's a tough job and I'm qualified to do this," he said. "I have done a good job for the city of Hoboken and I look at this as a way to continue doing a good job for the city of Hoboken."

Potential layoffs at the Hoboken University Medical Center

Faced with declining patient numbers and falling revenue, Hoboken University Medical Center officials said yesterday that workers may be laid off and services cut as early as next month.

HUMC spokeswoman Joan Quigley, who is also a state assemblywoman, said revenues have been dropping at the hospital, most noticeably in the last quarter of 2008. The hospital had fewer patients during the holiday season than in previous years.

"We've had some doctors tell us their waiting rooms are empty," Quigley said. "The national economy has hurt us all. A lot of people lost their insurance and other people don't want to spend the co-pay because they're afraid they'll need the money later."

Judge to hospital: shine a light

Judge to hospital: shine a light

07/14/2008 Hoboken Reporter

Mason wins lawsuit regarding public meeting violations

Hudson County Superior Court Judge John O'Shaughnessy ruled June 30 that the government body overseeing Hoboken's only hospital has repeatedly violated state laws about open public meetings, and that they were deficient in their response to a citizen's request for information.

The decision was in response to a lawsuit filed by 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason against the relatively new Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority (HMHA) in 2007. Mason has filed a number of lawsuits charging that the city has failed to make certain records and meetings open to the public. Mason, who was elected to her council seat in May of 2007, had filed the suits while still a private citizen.

Close to settling suit over Hoboken records

Councilwoman Beth Mason may be close to settling one of her lawsuits concerning transparency in government - this time with the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority.

"The lawyers have worked out the basis for an agreement," said Ira Karasick, an attorney for HMHA.

Both sides stress the agreement has not been finalized and must be approved by HMHA's board of directors - by no means a sure thing. The board next meets March 26.

"The board wants to resolve the litigation," said George Crimmins, HMHA's executive director. "It's a matter of what that resolution is."

It's make or break time for hospital

It's make or break time for hospital

Friday, February 02, 2007 Jersey Journal

Yesterday was the first full day of the new/old hospital in Hoboken. St. Mary Hospital is no more. Mile Square residents now have the Hoboken University Medical Center. Just how long they will have this health care facility is not known, but for the sake of local taxpayers it had better be for a long time.

On Wednesday, an agreement was signed transferring title of the hospital building and land to the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority - an autonomous body set up by the city to own and oversee operations. It is the end - or is it beginning? - of an attempt to save the hospital from permanently closing.

There were few noticeable changes apart from the addition of new signs and the removal of religious icons that graced the hospital once operated by Bon Secours Health Systems.

The city agreed last year to take over the financially strapped hospital on Willow Avenue. Last year, the hospital recorded losses of about $18 million and was doomed to oblivion. Instead, the city created the hospital authority and engineered a rescue effort that is financed by a $52 million bond - backed by the city - that will pay for improvements and upgrades, as well as funding start-up operations and creating a reserve fund. Hoping the new hospital succeeds, Bon Secours is also providing $13 million in funds to help with operating costs.

Those upgrades will include a new emergency room, labor and delivery rooms, private patient rooms, a new cardiac catheterization lab and new surgical suites.

Additional land on Fourth Street - the site of the Midtown Garage - will be transferred to the city as part of the agreement, which also calls for the sale of the Faith Services building on Willow Avenue and the Family Health Services building on Clinton Street to the HMHA for $5.35 million.

City officials believe that they will have an idea of its success within a year and that the land is a valuable asset and security for taxpayers. The property could be sold for development to recoup the financing, say officials. This newspaper did not support the large financial commitment placed on city taxpayers to save the hospital. Now that the deed is done, it had better work - and quickly.

Part of the agreement provides that should the hospital be sold within two years for any purpose other than health care, Bon Secours would receive 50 percent of any profit after bills are paid.

The "new" hospital should make a concerted effort to market itself. Also, city residents wanted to save the hospital, now they should make use of it.

Suit: Hospital takeover process too secret

HOBOKEN - An activist is suing the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority and the city, alleging that the ongoing transfer of St. Mary Hospital from its present owners has been less than transparent.

Hoboken resident Elizabeth Mason filed the lawsuit in Superior Court in early December, alleging the defendants did not provide adequate notice of two meetings - one in September, the other in October - as required under the Sunshine laws.

St. Mary probe costs 9 their jobs

An internal investigation into a payroll scam at St. Mary Hospital has led to the termination of nine employees and a criminal investigation by the state Attorney General's Office, hospital officials said.

Bon Secours Health System Inc., which is nearing completion of a deal that would hand over the hospital to the city, launched the investigation in October after it feared more than $1 million in fraudulent overtime and bogus bonuses were being dished out in the payroll department.

State approves $52 million bond for St. Mary Hospital

The state Local Finance Board voted unanimously today to approve Hoboken's backing of a $52 million bond to rescue St. Mary Hospital.

If the city's newly-created autonomous Municipal Hospital Authority fails to turn the the facility's fortunes around, the city taxpayers could be on the hook for $10 million after the hospital has sold off it assets, according to Mark Pfeiffer, deputy director of the state Division of Local Services.

Let's not rush St. Mary deal

The first reality check in the struggle to save St. Mary Hospital is at hand. It is the ordinance now before the City Council which, if approved, will put the full faith and credit of the City of Hoboken in a guarantee of a $52 million bond issue in support of the hospital. The language in the ordinance is astoundingly clear: "the City shall be unconditionally and irrevocably obligated to pay the principal of and interest on the (bond) and the City shall be unconditionally and irrevocably obligated to levy ad valorem taxes upon all the taxable property within the City for the payment thereof." (Ordinance for The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority Bonding, Section 1)

MHA: Report: Over a third of N.J. hospitals are running in the red

TRENTON — Nearly 40 percent of New Jersey hospitals lost money in 2005 and the rest had relatively small profit margins on average, continuing a nearly decade-long trend, their trade association reported today.

Last year, hospitals across the Garden State had an average operating margin, similar to a profit margin, of only 1.6 percent, while their long-term debt rose and cash on hand to continue operations declined, according to the "Financial Status of New Jersey Hospitals Report."

The report, prepared by the New Jersey Hospital Association, is the ninth in a row to find hospital operating margins of just 2 percent or less. Last year's 1.6 percent average operating margin was less than half the national average for the same period: 3.7 percent, according to the American Hospital Association.

MHA: Ask the right questions about hospital before voting

This coming Wednesday, December 6th, the City Council will vote on whether to approve the takeover of Saint Mary’s Hospital.  Many of us want to save the Hospital.  With other area facilities filled nearly to capacity and a large segment of our community unable to afford to go elsewhere for medical care, Saint Mary’s has a vital role to play in providing quality health care to Hoboken residents.  Also, Saint Mary’s employs nearly 1,000 people, many of whom live here in town.  The loss of those jobs would be a blow to many hard-working people and to our local economy as a whole.  So we all can agree that saving Saint Mary’s Hospital is an important community goal.

But this does not mean that the Mayor’s plan will achieve that goal, or that if one supports the Hospital, one must support that plan.  In fact, as I have read through the materials that were put before City Council and the Hospital Board, attended the City Council and Board meetings, and talked to other Hoboken residents and experts in the field, I have come to nearly the opposite conclusion – that the plan entails severe risks and puts healthcare and jobs in danger.  No one on the Council or the Board is asking the questions, openly and publicly, to ensure that the plan is successful or that there are no better alternatives.  For example:

MHA: City Council: You know its wrong to buy a hospital

When the mayor decided to save St. Mary Hospital, he didn't suggest a referendum in which the citizens would decide whether or not to foot the bill. Instead, the issue is now in the hands of our elected representatives on the city council.

So let me directly address the city council members:

In your hearts, you know this is wrong.  You know that you are getting us, the taxpayers of Hoboken, in too deep.  You know that you don't know enough about hospital funding, Medicare reimbursements, insurance schemes, or the future of the medical industry to make a sound decision. Admit it, you have a hard time deciphering your own health-care plan. You are buying a failing hospital and hoping and wishing and praying that the people you hire don't run it into the ground like the folks at UMDNJ did to that hospital.

All we `really' need is an emergency hospital here in Hoboken

By way of saving Hoboken's St. Mary Hospital, the City Council is about to kiss goodbye our best chance of keeping an emergency room in town.

Unless it's gone already. Here's the story.

As I reminded readers in a previous letter, when Bon Secours first announced that it was dumping the money-losing hospital, another health care company said it would take over the emergency room. That's really the only hospital facility we need right her in town. But the Mayor made a lot of noise about saving the entire hospital with a city takeover. Hence the plan to stick taxpayers with a fifty million dollar bond. And when taxpayers expressed concern about repaying the bond, he said, `Don't worry; if it's not turning a profit by the end of 2007' - I think now they're saying in two years from now – `we can always sell the property to developers.'

Ramos needs to explain this

Ramos needs to explain this

November 15, 2006

Letters to the Editor - Jersey Journal

Each week I think the Roberts administration can't get any worse at mismanagement and misrepresentation, and each week the news reports prove me wrong. I'll leave others to make sense of the 916 Garden St. parking garage debacle. Today I'm writing about "Hospital Authority asks for $52 million."

Now don't get me wrong, I support having a hospital in Hoboken - as it was promised by Mayor Roberts - at no risk and no cost to the Hoboken taxpayer. It's just been obvious to most of us for months that that is never going to happen.

Reading the Journal Online story this week, a casual reader might think that Councilman Ruben Ramos Jr. has finally come to the same conclusion. He is reported as saying that it is troubling that the council was expected to vote to guarantee $52 million in bonds with only five minutes notice and no one from the board present at the meeting.

"We want them to be accountable to us," Ramos said. And bravo for Mr. Ramos.

But how does he square his newfound sense of fiscal responsibility - after seven years on the council - with the fact THAT IT WAS MR. RAMOS who was the sponsor of the ordinance he objected to?

Sadly, he doesn't seem to think he has to explain himself to anyone. One more unsupported claim and hope the public turns to the next issue.

Remember the parks, parking, and balanced budget that got Mr. Ramos re-elected in 2005? Gone in a puff of smoke. Just like the promises about St. Mary Hospital.


$52M bond for St. Mary Hospital approved by unanimous council vote

The Hoboken City Council voted unanimously Monday night to introduce a $52 million bond ordinance to pay for improvements at St. Mary Hospital.

Mayor David Roberts said the bond, which is guaranteed by the city but will be repaid by St. Mary Hospital, is necessary to ensure Hoboken has a top-notch hospital.

What's in a name? Rutgers and Felician College to partner with 'Hoboken University' hospital

A LOT ON THEIR PLATE – The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority met Wednesday to discuss how to return the money losing hospital to solvency. See sidebar.  
The rebranding of St. Mary Hospital has begun.

When the city officially acquires the 136-year-old medical facility, it will be renamed the Hoboken University Medical Center.

Hospital CEO Harvey Holzberg announced Wednesday night at a meeting of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority that several new academic affiliations will come along with the name change.

MHA: St. Mary Hosp's budget: $130M

The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority has voted a $130 million budget for St. Mary Hospital's first year under its new city ownership.

The city plans to take over operations from the current owners, Bon Secours Health Systems, in a bid to rescue the ailing hospital, which projects a cash loss of $18 million by the end of the year.

The city, which wants to take over operations at the hospital by the new year, hopes it can turn around the hospital's future by increasing revenue and cutting management costs and pension costs.

MHA: Council still wary of voting $52M bond deal

A rift over how to best secure the future of St. Mary Hospital showed little sign of closing at Wednesday's Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority meeting.

The disagreement flared the previous week after City Council members refused to introduce a $52 million bond to guarantee a loan for improvements to the hospital.

Mayor David Roberts said the deal is the best hope for maintaining a hospital in Hoboken. Under the proposal, Bon Secours Health System would transfer to the city, at no cost, the debt-free hospital and its land, worth $45 million, plus $13 million in cash for operations.

Hoboken has questions on hospital bonding. Council nixes vote until it can hear experts' answers

The City Council has balked at introducing an ordinance that would put Hoboken taxpayers on the hook for $52 million if St. Mary Hospital can't pay its bills once it is transferred to the city.

Council members apparently were miffed that they saw the undocumented proposal for the first time just before the start of Wednesday's council meeting.

Council members have scheduled meetings this week to quiz the bond counsel and financial officers, and the ordinance may go back for a vote at the next council meeting, officials said.

Hoboken Hospital Authority: Probe's focus is payroll staff

The state attorney general is involved in an investigation of whether staff in St. Mary Hospital's payroll department were involved in stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars over an unspecified time period, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Events started as an internal investigation by the owner, Bon Secours Health System Inc., who then notified law enforcement officials of their concerns, sources told this newspaper.

Early unconfirmed reports said that the misappropriated money could total between $200,000 and $1.25 million.

St. Mary payroll target of probe Sources: Bogus paychecks could total $1.2 million

Bon Secours Health System Inc. has launched an internal investigation into whether hundreds of thousands of dollars in bogus paychecks were issued out of St. Mary Hospital's payroll department over an unspecified period of time, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The investigation officially began Thursday, when armed guards hired by Bon Secours marched into the medical facility to secure computers and change the locks on a number of doors, according to several sources.

But if city can't save St. Mary?

HOBOKEN - Officials from St. Mary Hospital, which is still in the process of a city takeover, have announced plans to spend tens of millions of dollars modernizing the 149-year-old facility, but say if those plans fail within a few years to produce cash, the city should consider closing the hospital's doors.

ST. MARY New hospital panel to meet

The newly formed Hoboken Hospital Authority plans to hold its first public meeting tomorrow, ushering in a new period of community management at the beleaguered St. Mary Hospital.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the hospital's Assumption Hall.

The board is autonomous from the city and was created by special legislation that saved the hospital from closing. Mayor David Roberts appointed six board members and the hospital's medical staff selected two. The state Department of Community Affairs will fill out the nine-member board when it makes its selection.

Wanted: Community Representatives for St. Mary Hospital Board of Advisors

Hoboken Mayor David Roberts is inviting residents interested in the future of St. Mary Hospital to submit resumes to serve as community representatives on its Board of Advisors.

The Board will consist of 11 members, six of whom will be private citizens and four who must be Hoboken residents.

At least two of the Hoboken must have expertise in finance of private or non-profit organizations, or have extensive expertise in non-profit organizational management.

The other members will be formed of Hospital staff and the State of New Jersey.

Those interested should send their resume to the Mayor's office, City Hall, 94 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ, 07030. For further information, contact 201-420-2000. 

See Political Commentary

Corzine inks St. Mary measure

HOBOKEN - Gov. Jon Corzine signed a bill Monday that will pave the way for the city to take ownership of St. Mary Hospital, signaling the conclusion of a six-month saga that began when the owners of the 140-year-old facility filed paperwork with the state to shut the hospital.

With legislation in place, the Hoboken City Council is expected to introduce an ordinance at a meeting tonight allowing the city to create an authority that will run the hospital, the oldest in the state, and take ownership as soon as October.

Will Holzberg do for St. Mary what he did for UMDNJ?

Dear Editor:  In his article about Harvey Holzberg last week, Tom Jennemann buried the news that the new head of St. Mary Hospital was deeply involved with the scandal-plagued University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ. Holzberg was a member of the board of trustees of UMDNJ from 1997 to 2003. In fact, then-Gov. Jim McGreevey appointed him chairman of the 11-member board in August 2002. He lost that job the following March when McGreevey pulled the plug because, as head of UMDNJ affiliate Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Holzberg had a conflict of interest.

Unanimous vote for St. Mary deal; eye Sept. handover

HOBOKEN - The City Council introduced an ordinance last week that will allow for the creation of a municipal hospital authority to oversee St. Mary Hospital.

A foray into the hospital business

Hoboken is now only weeks away from officially acquiring St. Mary Hospital.  Earlier this week, Gov. Jon Corzine signed legislation that will allow Hoboken to form a quasi-governmental "Hospital Authority" to manage the 250-bed medical facility. Sen. Bernard Kenny and Assemblyman Albio Sires sponsored the legislation. 

The turnaround man, Holzberg discusses St. Mary Hospital's recovery, recent profitable month.

St. Mary Hospital made a nearly $150,000 profit in May, a significant milestone in the hospital's transformation from a money losing private not-for-profit into a city-owned facility. St. Mary's chief executive and noted hospital turnaround guru Harvey Holzberg believes that it is just the first of many profitable months to come.

State legislation approves Municipal Hospital Authority

July 8, 2006

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Troubled St. Mary Hospital can be purchased by a Hoboken municipal authority under legislation approved Saturday morning by the Assembly.

The Senate in June approved the bill to save the state's oldest hospital. The Assembly voted 43-32 to approve it.

St. Mary Hospital is owned by Bon Secours Health Systems. The hospital has 328 beds and 967 employees, but Bon Secours recently filed with the state close the hospital, citing $118 million in debt since the company took over the hospital in 2000.

The plan calls for Hoboken to create a municipal authority that would run the hospital and be eligible for state financial aid.

State to OK creation of city 'hospital authority.' Moving closer to Hoboken's takeover of St. Mary

Within the next week, the New Jersey state legislature is expected to pass a law that will facilitate Hoboken's purchase of St. Mary Hospital. The bill permits cities to create their own "hospital authority," a quasi-governmental agency, much like a parking authority.

I'm also protesting Hoboken's takeover of St. Mary Hospital

Hoboken Reporter

Dear Editor:

I wish to second the anonymous letter (HR 6/11) protesting the city's takeover of St. Mary Hospital. What are our officials thinking of?  

Bon Secour, which presumably has some experience in this field, is dumping the facility because it is losing three million dollars every month. A local newspaper quoted a New Jersey hospital administrator as saying it was all but impossible to break even on a hospital with mostly uninsured and Medicaid patients, as this one is. The city of Hoboken has never been known for professional management or financial competence. We all know the current budget is out of whack, dependent now on desperate juggling acts with the municipal garage site. The state has warned the city not to take on this burden but instead of listening, Mayor Roberts and State Senator Kenny are cooking up more tricks to make it legal. And whatever the arrangement, Hoboken taxpayers will be ultimately responsible. Can we afford it?

As for the announced plans for improvement, putting money into equipment, as planned, is well and good but can we trust the city to get doctors who can use it wisely? The designated director, Mr. Holzberg, might have a good record but is he a miracle worker? Granted, it's important to have an emergency room that residents can get to quickly. But when Bon Secour's withdrawal was first announced, we read in the paper that another health care company would take over the emergency room if no one else came forward.

What happened to this idea?

S. J. Blain

City Hall should not be in the hospital business

Hoboken Reporter

City Hall should not be in the hospital business 
Dear Editor: I thought it was great that the citizens of Hoboken organized a strenuous fight to save the venerable St. Mary Hospital. And it was sad when not a single other health-care company in the country wanted to buy the money-losing business from Bon Secours and it seemed destined to fade into Hoboken memory.

And that's where it should have ended.

But no, Mayor Dave Roberts knows better. He tells us - I didn't notice him ever asking - that we the taxpayers will take over St. Mary. Don't worry, it won't cost a dime! We new owners will get $26 million from the state to cover costs. Guaranteed money from the state? I've heard that one before. And what happens when the $26 million runs out? St. Mary is already $118 million in debt. Bon Secours will actually pay the city to take the hospital off its hands. And now the new administrator is talking about borrowing $65 million to upgrade the place. Do the math!

When state regulators stepped in to say that a city the size of Hoboken can't add such a big potential liability to its budget, Roberts' politico friends decided together in Trenton to rewrite the legislation. They are going to saddle us with this white elephant no matter what.

It's understandable that the politicians don't want to be the ones on duty when St. Mary closes. But they must stop listening just to the people who say save it at any cost because they have a job there, or five generations of their family were born there, or it's pricey to take a cab to Jersey City when your kid breaks his arm.

We are talking about the long-term financial health of Hoboken, and keeping taxes to a manageable level. We cannot have the city government take over every failing business, no matter how long and glorious a history it has. You don't have to be an economist to realize that the health-care industry is fraught with economic peril for anyone who dares to get involved. When indigent people come to St. Mary now and leave without paying, Bon Secours eats it. Next year, it will be the taxpayers of Hoboken eating the unpaid bills.

Let's get real. Too many people in Hoboken don't go there now to give birth, replace a hip, get a bypass operation. And now it's run by a reputable hospital chain. Will that change when City Hall takes over?

Mayor, you don't even send your children to public school here. When they need medical care will you send them to a "Hoboken General" administered by the friends and relatives of the Hudson Democratic machine?

Name withheld

Weehawken resident concerned about St. Mary

Hoboken Reporter
Weehawken resident concerned about St. Mary

Dear Editor:

None of us can afford to ignore the dilemma St. Mary Hospital in Hoboken finds itself in with the threat of imminent closing. St. Mary is a community hospital - a place with a friendly staff where patients feel they are being treated not only medically, but also as a human being. During the past month my mother has received excellent care from this hospital. We found the doctors to be dedicated, capable and attentive. The nurses and nurse assistants were caring and responsible.

The combined population of Hoboken and bordering communities is large and depends upon the medical/surgical excellence, accessibility and overall quality of care provided by St. Mary Hospital.

We have two New Jersey governmental officials living in Hoboken who need to hear of our concern; i.e. Jon Corzine, Office of the Governor, P.O. Box 001, Trenton, NJ 08625, phone: 609-292-6000 and Senator Bernard F. Kenny, 235 Hudson St. Suite 1, Hoboken, NJ 07030, phone: 201-653-1466. Robert Menendez also resides in Hoboken, and although a U.S. Senator, we hope he is still interested in issues that affect his neighborhood. You can reach him at 502 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, 202-224-4744. Don't delay; contact them as soon as possible. Tell them that, as their constituents, we depend upon their experience and ability to arrive at a solution that will ensure the continued service of St. Mary to the citizens of our communities, which have been well served by this hospital. 
Sincerely yours,
Evelyn M. Dette