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Girgenti Says Barnert Hospital Needs To Be Saved

Senator John A. Girgenti, D-Passaic and Bergen, Vice Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, listens to testimony before the Committee.

PATERSON – Senator John A. Girgenti today urged residents to show support for saving Barnert Hospital which could close next month unless a buyer is found to save the facility which has been a staple of health care support on the city’s Eastside for nearly 100 years.

“I’m very concerned about the gaping hole in community health care which would be created if Barnert Hospital closes,” said Senator Girgenti. “And, I am also concerned about the families of the more than 600 dedicated professionals who work at Barnert.”

Senator Girgenti said he said he believes the debts accumulated by Barnert which caused it to declare bankruptcy last month are linked to the need for national health care reforms.

“We should expedite national health care reforms because the financial burdens on good hospitals like Barnert are too great,” Senator Girgenti said. “I’d start by urging Congress to override the President’s veto of SCHIP next week.”

Senator Girgenti said expanding the New Jersey Family Care through the SCHIP proposal is critically important to the long-term goals of getting preventive treatment for children of working families and to decrease dependency on charity care and walk-ins to emergency rooms.

“Investors need to know we are serious about health care reform,” Senator Girgenti said. “It’s just not acceptable to let the President reject the overwhelming will of the people to support an expansion of health care coverage available for children.”

Senator Girgenti said that, on the State level, Governor Corzine’s Hospital Realignment Commission is expected to submit its recommendations on the “state’s supply of hospitals and other health care services” by Dec. 1.

The panel is charged with recommending the best way, statewide, to “appropriately respond to community needs for high-quality, affordable and accessible care,” according to Governor Corzine’s executive order which created it one year ago.

“It seems obvious to me that any fair assessment by a panel of health care professionals will conclude that a major city like Paterson with more than 140,000 residents should have more than one hospital,” Senator Girgenti said, referring to the fact that St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center is the city’s only other full-service health care facility.

Cain Brothers, the Wall Street investment banking firm which specializes in the medical services industry, has been retained by Barnert Hospital officials to find bidders for the 256-bed facility by November 20th, according to published reports.