TRENTON – The Senate today overwhelmingly approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Sandra Bolden Cunningham, D-Hudson, to require written notification to state, federal and local officials in a municipality where a hospital may close.
“Before a hospital just shuts down, we need time to help patients and their families,” said Senator Cunningham. “It’s a tremendous hardship which is often life-threatening, when a dependable health care facility just closes down without adequate notice.”
Senator Cunningham said her bill, S-693, would trigger a written notice from the State Department of Health and Senior Services to State legislators, congressional representatives and the mayor of a municipality where a hospital indicates plans to close.
“The loss of services from Grenville Hospital’s near total shutdown has been devastating to the people of Jersey City,” Senator Cunningham said. “There has to be a rational process in place so we can take steps proactively to ensure that our residents find timely health care alternatives.”
Senator Cunningham said the measure would help communities mobilize efforts to find investors to purchase failing hospitals and regenerate their services or establish access to other health care services nearby.
“Families have enough to deal with when someone becomes sick,” said Senator Cunningham. “We need to be notified so options can be found quickly when a local hospital can no longer sustain itself.”
According to State records, New Jersey currently has 78 community hospitals compared to 112 such facilities 20 years ago.
Senator Cunningham’s bill passed 38-0 and now goes to the Assembly.