[This is the kind of action we should all be taking as progressives — not only the street protests but also attending meetings like this and cooperating with your fellow community activists. Blogs are great, but real world activism is what gets results — promoted by huntsu]
The date, time and place have been set for the public hearing on the application to close Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center in Plainfield. The state board which makes “recommendations” to NJ health commissioner Heather Howard will hear testimony on Tuesday, May 6, from 6 to 8 pm in the Plainfield High School Auditorium at 950 Park Avenue.
I put “recommendations” in quotes because Howard has already told the State Senate Budget Committee that Muhlenberg will have to be closed to “strengthen” JFK hospital in Edison–one of the many facilities (non-profit and for-profit) owned by parent corporation Solaris Health Systems, which acquired Muhlenberg in 1997.
Masses of citizens have signed up to testify…the Plainfield Board of Education has rescheduled its meeting so as not to conflict with the hearing…elected officials from Plainfield and many other area communities will speak…and we hope to fill the 1500-seat auditorium.
But we’ll need the help of the Blue Jersey community to do it!
Solaris says they plan to keep Muhlenberg’s emergency room open as a JFK “satellite,” although they have acknowledged that since their announcement that Muhlenberg will close June 15, many seeking care have already shifted to other facilities. They have assumed that the closing is a “done deal” and that the hearing is simply pro forma–as it may very well be, given Howard’s comments and the overall crisis in health care funding.
But we in Plainfield and the surrounding area are doing everything we can to keep Muhlenberg open as a full-service acute-care facility. Established more than 100 years ago, Muhlenberg serves a population of more than 150,000 in three counties–Union, Middlesex, and Somerset–and has among the highest ratings in the state and nation for its quality of patient care. (In fact, its ratings are better than JFK’s.) Moreover, it is the primary health care facility for Plainfield’s nearly 50,000 residents and the city’s largest employer, with more than 1,000 staff members. Closing Muhlenberg would be a devastating blow to Plainfield’s economy!
We have the support of Plainfield’s Chamber of Commerce as well as area clergy, local elected officials, legislators, community organizations, county freeholders, and hundreds of Plainfield area residents. All understand that closing Muhlenberg would make the difference between life and death for hundreds of people!
The People’s Organization for Progress has taken the lead in organizing our efforts, which have included rallies, a demonstration in Trenton, and prayer vigils, as well as substantial outreach to Plainfield and the surrounding communities. Hundreds of people have gotten involved–including Shaun O’Hara of the Giants, who spoke at our most recent rally April 29th.
Please help us fill the Plainfield High School auditorium on Tuesday, May 6th–we need to show state officials that we’re serious about keeping our hospital open!