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Monday, April 21, 2008

Editorial on Muhlenberg misses 'elephant in room'

The Courier has a good editorial in today's edition (see here), and I think they have hit on a good point: It's not exactly that the state WANTS Muhlenberg to close...but they're OK WITH IT.

We all know the state set up a process by which all the state's hospitals would be evaluated.

As with all processes in which stakeholders have an intense interest and elected officials may find themselves on the spot (think Congress and military base closures), the process was designed so that only RECOMMENDATIONS OF CRITERIA were made -- no actual names were used.

The Plainfield market area is SPECIFICALLY NOT INCLUDED in the overbedded category (see more here).

Further, the report --
...lays out criteria officials should use in determining which are "essential" and "viable" and deserving of financial support.

Those factors include whether the hospital serves a "vulnerable" population -- such as uninsured and poor patients -- and whether critical services such as trauma care are offered, the report said.

A hospital's overall financial health -- including its profitability, cash on hand and long-term debt to capitalization ratio -- should also be a consideration, the commission said.

So, while "overall financial health...should be a consideration", it does not seem that it is meant to trump "whether the hospital serves a 'vulnerable' population -- such as uninsured and poor patients."

Which leaves us to ponder exactly WHY the state seems to think it's OK TO CLOSE Muhlenberg.

Uncomfortably for the state, there is an unstated 'elephant in the room': We have an overwhelmingly white state bureaucracy supporting an overwhelmingly white hospital bureaucracy (Solaris) in shutting down an acute-care hospital which clearly serves a 'vulnerable' population of 'uninsured and poor patients' -- PRIMARILY PEOPLE OF COLOR.

And one suspects that the divvying up of patient care that is contemplated in the Courier's front-page story on the satellite emergency room today (see more here) gives Solaris reason to hope that ALL the Plainfield charity-care cases will not end up on JFK's doorstep in Edison.

Can you say 'callous'?

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Anonymous said...

Thank heaven that Jerry has has been so thorough and foresighted in his convening the committee to oversee the closing of Muhlenberg.

Would that he had done the same to keep it open. Of course, given that he had already used up his juice to elect his puppet, he couldn't have done much to keep it open.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,
Well good work as always. My comment is "well duh." Is there any surprise that Solaris thinks they can dump their vulnerable uninsured patients? Or that they will be able to put JFK on "divert" night after night? Divert is hospital speak for "we're full up here" whether they are or not.

Meanwhile community groups are trying to figure out emergency transport for what we know will be a deluge of vulnerable patients.

The great news is the "buy Muhlenberg" campaign. Can you post the info as to how to purchase shares?

AZReam said...

Well we can supply most things, but not elephants :(