Author Archive: DottieG

Muhlenberg Commemoration Saturday

promoted by Rosi

Saturday, August 13, marks the third anniversary of the closing of Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center in Plainfield, and it will be marked by a community commemoration at 4:30 pm at the intersection of Park Avenue and Randolph Road in Plainfield.

Muhlenberg served Plainfield and a dozen surrounding communities in three counties for more than 130 years.  The proposal to close it was made by its owner, Solaris Health Systems, which also owns JFK Hospital in Edison.  The State Health Planning Board came to Plainfield for two public hearings in the high school auditorium, which seats more than a thousand people and was standing room only both times.  A third public hearing was held in the Trenton area, and more than 150 Plainfielders attended.

Unfortunately, although the communities affected and their leaders spoke up loud and clear, Solaris was allowed to close Muhlenberg on August 13, 2008.  A yearly commemoration has been held ever since.

The community effort was led by the People’s Organization for Progress and spurred the establishment of the Save Muhlenberg Coalition, now the Restore Muhlenberg Coalition.  POP and the Coalition are sponsoring the commemoration.

For more information, contact me at 908-668-1149 or by email at dottiegutenkauf(at)gmail.com.  We hope to see you there!  

Muhlenberg as political football

Last Sunday, October 25, the Courier News published a “guest commentary” from me describing how the Republican candidates against Assembly members Jerry Green and Linda Stender are trying to blame them for the Plainfield community’s tragic loss of Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center.  It’s a cynical last-minute ploy by Republican politicians who weren’t around for any of the community efforts over the past year and a half led by the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) and the Restore Muhlenberg Coalition.  

My commentary was posted online at http://www.mycentraljersey.com… and describes the history of community activity in this struggle and the absence of the Republican Assembly candidates.

I also predicted that Chris Christie would get into the act–and now he has, with a letter promising a “review” of the process leading up to the decision to close the hospital.  

But what he doesn’t mention is that such a review is already taking place in the Appellate Court–because last year, the City of Plainfield and the POP/Restore Muhlenberg Coalition appealed the decision to close the hospital.  Extensive briefs have been filed and we are awaiting a hearing date.

Muhlenberg closing on State Health Planning Board agenda Thursday

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 dottiegutenkauf@gmail.com (I send only blind copies and never share people’s email addresses).

Street Theater in Plainfield Thursday

The POP/Save Muhlenberg Coalition has planned a 12-hour “community watch” from 9 am to 9 pm Thursday (June 19) on Randolph Road in Plainfield, just across the street from Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center.

The activities will take place on a vacant lot which has been rented for the day by the Coalition.  Volunteers, in 2-hour shifts, will rally, sing, and portray the future of the tri-county area served by Muhlenberg if Solaris, its parent corporation, is allowed to close the 130-year-old facility.

Passers-by will be asked to participate by signing pre-printed postcards urging Governor Corzine to SAVE MUHLENBERG.  Postage will be paid and the postcards mailed by the Coalition.  And after all, as one Coalition member pointed out, if the Governor can raise $30 million in donations for the Rutgers stadium, he should be able to raise the money to keep this essential facility open.

The event is also a celebration of “Juneteenth,” the day slaves in Texas learned they had been emancipated two years before.  And the Plainfield High School graduation will take place at 6 pm down the block at Hub Stine Field.

The State Health Planning Board will meet on Thursday, June 26 in East Windsor to hear testimony and discuss Solaris’ application to close Muhlenberg.  The Board will make their recommendations to State Health & Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard.

The proposal to close Muhlenberg has generated an outpouring of resistance from members of the dozen municipalities served by the Medical Center.  Most of the governing bodies in those towns have passed resolutions opposing shutting down Muhlenberg.  

For more information, contact me at dottiegutenkauf@gmail.com  

Come to Plainfield Thursday!

[A big show of support would be an awesome thing.  — huntsu]

The State Health Planning Board will hold a second hearing on Solaris’ application to close Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center on Thursday, June 5, from 6 to 8 pm in the Plainfield High School auditorium, 950 Park Avenue.  We will rally outside the high school starting at 4:30 pm.

The People’s Organization for Progress and the Save Muhlenberg Coalition packed the 1,200-seat auditorium at the first hearing last month and with your help we’ll do it again!

For an update on the current situation, email me at dottiegutenkauf@gmail.com.

Next hearing on Muhlenberg is Thursday

Last month the State Health Planning Board hearing on the application to close Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center brought more than 1,000 people to the auditorium at Plainfield High School.  The public outcry was so great that at Assemblyman Jerry Green’s request the Board scheduled another hearing–it’s this Thursday, June 5, 6 to 8 pm, in the same place.

We are pulling out all the stops to pack the auditorium again and show the Board that this isn’t just a Plainfield problem.  Muhlenberg serves more than 150,000 people in 12 municipalities in three counties (Union, Somerset, and Middlesex), and most of the governing bodies in those towns have passed resolutions demanding that Muhlenberg be kept open.  We expect representatives of those communities, medical staff, and community members to address the Board on Thursday.

There are several different proposals floating around from developers and investors as to ways to keep the hospital open–to my mind, none of them provides an adequate substitute for what these communities have had for so long, a full-service acute care hospital.

We are working hard to fill the auditorium again, and we’ll rally outside the High School starting at 4:30 pm on Thursday.  Please join us there in demanding that the Board deny the closure application–or instead that action be delayed until full and objective assessments are made of community needs and the hospital’s real fiscal situation.

This isn’t just a matter of corporate greed–it’s part of the national health care crisis, and it’s blatant medical red-lining of another urban, largely minority community.

Hope to see you Thursday!  

Next hearing on Muhlenberg isThursday

Last month the State Health Planning Board hearing on the application to close Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center brought more than 1,000 people to the auditorium at Plainfield High School.  The public outcry was so great that at Assemblyman Jerry Green’s request the Board scheduled another hearing–it’s this Thursday, June 5, 6 to 8 pm, in the same place.

We are pulling out all the stops to pack the auditorium again and show the Board that this isn’t just a Plainfield problem.  Muhlenberg serves more than 150,000 people in 12 municipalities in three counties (Union, Somerset, and Middlesex), and most of the governing bodies in those towns have passed resolutions demanding that Muhlenberg be kept open.  We expect representatives of those communities, medical staff, and community members to address the Board on Thursday.

There are several different proposals floating around from developers and investors as to ways to keep the hospital open–to my mind, none of them provides an adequate substitute for what these communities have had for so long, a full-service acute care hospital.

We are working hard to fill the auditorium again, and we’ll rally outside the High School starting at 4:30 pm on Thursday.  Please join us there in demanding that the Board deny the closure application–or instead that action be delayed until full and objective assessments are made of community needs and the hospital’s real fiscal situation.

This isn’t just a matter of corporate greed–it’s part of the national health care crisis, and it’s blatant medical red-lining of another urban, largely minority community.

Hope to see you Thursday!  

Update on Save Muhlenberg Campaign

We filled the Plainfield High School auditorium May 5th (thanks, Blue Jersey)!  1,200 people came out to show the State Health Planning Board that we’re serious about keeping Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center as a licensed full-service acute care facility.  About 30 people got to speak (the Board only allows 3 minutes each in a 2-hour hearing).  

There was compelling testimony from medical professionals, community members, and elected officials from several of the many communities Muhlenberg serves.  And at the request of Assemblyman Jerry Green, the Board has scheduled another public hearing for Thursday, June 5–same time, same place–and with your help we will pack the place again!

In the meantime, we will rally again tomorrow–Saturday, May 17, at 12 noon in downtown Plainfield.  We’ll meet at Park Avenue and Front Street and march through downtown.  On Monday, there will be the usual meeting of the People’s Organization for Progress, which is leading the struggle–6:30 pm at the duCret School of Art, 1030 Central Avenue in Plainfield.

And on Wednesday, May 19, Assemblyman Green has called a special community meeting to report on the status of his efforts to save Muhlenberg.  The time is 6 pm sharp, the place is Washington Community School (427 Darrow Street, north of 7th Street).

We’ve been getting good press coverage from the Courier News (www.mycentraljersey.com)–I wish I could say the same of the Star-Ledger.  Perhaps the Ledger views it as “only a Plainfield issue,” but that’s a really myopic view: Muhlenberg is the primary acute-care hospital serving more than 150,000 residents in more than a dozen communities in Central NJ, and the only such facility within reasonable traveling distance.

And the availability of quality health care for all is anything but a parochial issue!  

See you this evening?

Don’t forget the State Health Planning Board’s hearing this evening (Tuesday, May 6)–6 to 8 pm in the Plainfield High School auditorium at 950 Park Avenue.

The hearing is on the proposal to close Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center in Plainfield, which serves a population of more than 150,000 in Union, Middlesex and Somerset counties.  Its parent corporation, Solaris Health System, has been draining resources from Muhlenberg and now wants to close it because it is losing money.

Muhlenberg is the only full-service acute-care medical center in the greater Plainfield area and has top ratings for quality, programs, and patient care.  Solaris prefers its JFK Hospital in Edison and wants to reroute Muhlenberg’s patients there and to different hospitals in places like Somerville, New Brunswick, and Summit.

This isn’t a situation where there are three underused hospitals within a two-mile area.  There are few alternatives for residents of the greater Plainfield area and getting to them will be difficult.  Plainfield itself has a large minority population with special health needs that will not be properly served if Muhlenberg is closed.    

Come out to the hearing this evening and help us convince the Board to reject the application to close Muhlenberg!