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Friday, April 11, 2008

Muhlenberg could close as early as Father's Day

In another sign that Solaris Health System is hell-bent on rushing through the closing of Muhlenberg Regional Medical System, word in the street is that CEO John McGee is prepared to issue the mandatory WARN letter to employees as early as today. That is based on an estimate that the earliest closing date can be June 15, 2008.

WARN letters are required by Federal law and must give employees at least 60 days notice of pending mass layoffs.

This cannot be good news for the 1,100 employees -- especially after the unfriendly terms of the severance package were made public earlier. Essentially, all hands must stay on deck until the ship goes down or lose all severance payments. Nice reward for years of faithful service, right?

Oh, lest I forget: June 15th is Father's Day. What a nice present from Solaris.

Meanwhile, a really interesting comment was posted to yesterday's item about Heather Howard's testimony to the Senate budget committee (see original here) --
"I watched the entirety of the NJ Senate Budget Hearing last night. Kudos to Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R), who really took the Commissioner to task for the lack of a cohesive approach to healthcare in NJ. Most surprising in watching the Hearing was the callous metrics used to determine charity care distribution/ranking and the failure of the Commissioner, Ms. Heather Howard, to think outside the box to keep hospitals from closing. As to tipping the State's hand, Ms. Howard spoke of the closure of Muhlenberg as a fait accompli. In fact, as if she was an advocate for Solaris, she said yesterday, "Muhlenberg Hospital is losing so much money, I think it's a failing hospital and its dragging down JFK. The reason Solaris wants to close Muhlenberg is to strengthen JFK...” Of course, the questions one asks include, what defines a "failing hospital", have the financials been reviewed to determine how and why it is losing "so much money", why are the financial not public, have they been properly audited, and why is the Commissioner giving priority to the objectives of Solaris over those of the community." -- April 10, 2008 9:04 AM
Many thanks to 'Queen City Serf'.

I have a continuing gnawing feeling that the process is being rushed, that there is more to all of this than meets the eye, and that several of the players -- including McGee and Assemblyman Green -- may have agendas which have not yet seen the light of day.

Is that why I wake up at 3 AM with Muhlenberg on my mind?

-- Dan Damon

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