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

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

Thursday, July 20, 2006
Jersey Journal

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.

If the ordinance is passed at the August council meeting, the 140-year-old facility could be turned over to the city as early as September.

The City Council's unanimous vote caps a six-month saga that began when Bon Secours Health System, the company that operates St. Mary Hospital, filed paperwork with the state to close it.

In the aftermath, city officials and hospital employees held meetings and rallies in support of the state's oldest hospital, which employs more than 1,000 people.

"This Mile Square City pulled together to save a beautiful hospital and that is a testament, not just to Hoboken, but to our democracy," Councilman Christopher Campos said.

The council also passed a resolution to submit an application to the state Local Finance Board.

In the month before the next council meeting, the Local Finance Board will be charged with conducting a complete financial review of the hospital. The ordinance cannot be adopted until the finance board issues an approval.

The hospital will eventually be run by a not-for-profit agency headed by President and CEO Harvey Holzberg, and managed by an 11-member board appointed by the mayor, the medical staff executive and the DCA commissioner.

Unlike previous meetings that drew dozens upon dozens of speakers, only three residents chimed in at the July 12 meeting.

"It's going to be the taxpayers of Hoboken who foot the bill if this miracle doesn't work," said Steve Bauman. "I don't think you've fully considered that."

George Crimmins, a special advisor to Mayor David Roberts, aimed to allay those fears, noting the hospital is being turned over debt-free to the city.

If the hospital continues to lose money, Crimmins said, the city can cut its losses by selling the property.

"This is a real business that's going to take care of people's lives," Crimmins said.

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