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

City Council: You know its wrong to buy a hospital

12/03/2006 HR

Dear Editor:

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.

Oh, that's right! You have a signed off on hiring the former chairman of that disgraced, corruption-ridden institution to run the new Hoboken University Medical Center.

The argument from those with a vested interest is that they will modernize it and more high-paying patients will come! Isn't the state of the art Jersey City Medical Center already drowning in red ink? Where do the young moms go to have their babies? Overlook in Summit. Where do cancer patients go? Sloan-Kettering. Need orthopedic surgery? Go where the Mets go, to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. We are too close to the nation's top medical facilities to make this work.

Nine members of the public are about to saddle 40,000 of us with a debt-ridden, out-dated, underused hospital. Ask yourselves why. Is it because Dave Roberts said to? This is the same mayor who wants to eliminate four of you from the council. He believes buying St. Mary's is worth the risk: the risk of putting every taxpayer on the hook for millions of dollars. Do you? Stop listening only to the people who have something to gain and start listening to those who have a lot to lose.

You know this is a softhearted but wrong-headed solution. You know you don't feel comfortable taking on this burden. You know this is trouble. You will be wishing for a return to minor-league problems, like the automated garage debacle.

This is the biggest decision you as a city council member will make on our behalf. The hospital's $130 million budget makes it more than the city and school budgets combined. Take your time, do your homework, search your conscience. Do the right thing.

Maureen Sullivan

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