The State Health Planning Board (SHPB) will meet on Thursday, June 26, to decide the fate of Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center in Plainfield. Unfortunately, the decision seems to have already been made–and it’s bad news not only for Plainfield but also for the more than 150,000 residents of twelve surrounding municipalities, for whom the 130-year-old institution is their primary source for acute care.
The Board is scheduled to meet from 9:30 am to 2 pm at the National Conference Center in East Windsor’s Holiday Inn on Monmouth Street (off Route 33 East at Turnpike Exit 8). The State Department of Health & Senior Services staff recommendation is to close Muhlenberg in order to “strengthen” JFK Hospital in Edison, also owned by Solaris.
People’s Organization for Progress Bennet Zurofsky (also director of the Solidarity Singers and the best labor lawyer in NJ) described the recommendation as the “Reader’s Digest condensed version” of Solaris’ application. The staff recommendations totally ignore the objections of medical professionals, accountants, community groups, representatives of our various constituencies, and elected officials from all the affected municipalities.
We’re told that the SHPB usually holds these meetings during the evening, but this one starts in the morning…how odd! Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the two public hearings in Plainfield drew more than 1,000 people each, all objecting to the proposal.
In the meantime, Solaris wants to borrow $70 million to close Muhlenberg and is now asking to borrow another $35 million for unspecified improvements at JFK. Corporate greed strikes again!
We will have buses leaving Plainfield at 8 am from the parking lot at Randolph Road and Park Avenue. Many of us will be going by car. Hey, Blue Jersey, help us fill the place–and Jay, if you’re available, bring your camcorder!
I’ve been sending out periodic updates on the situation–if you’d like to get on my list, email me at email@example.com (I send only blind copies and never share people’s email addresses).