Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jerry Green's Muhlenberg proposal: The complete Courier story

[Note: Only the initial part of the story was published online by; balance transcribed by DD.]

Published in the Courier News, Tuesday, May 20, 2008.

Online headline: Solaris may be willing to negotiate a selling price for Muhlenberg Medical Center

Print headline:
Muhlenberg to stay open?
Solaris offers proposal to keep hospital running


Solaris Health System might be willing to negotiate a price for keeping the acute-care facility at Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center open until a management team can be put in place to run a streamlined facility that would ensure basic health-care needs for the people of Plainfield and its surrounding areas.

This dramatic development emerged Monday when Assemblyman Gerald Green (D-Union) announced that he would introduce a "serious developer'' who would outline his plans for keeping Muhlenberg open at a special community meeting set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Washington Community School, 427 Darrow Ave. in Plainfield.

According to Green, the developer -- Drew Piscatelli of South Amboy -- would be willing to partner with either Solaris or Somerset Medical Center in Somerville in a plan that would give ownership of the medical center to the city of Plainfield and turn management of the facility over to "whoever is willing to step up.''

"Initally, Solaris was asking for $48 million,'' Green said. "That amount of money was chasing away every potential party. The numbers are a lot different now. We're down to $18 million. That's a big difference. Investors have shown tremendous interest.''

In outlining his plan for a streamlined facility, Green said that people will just have to realize that this is the direction that health-care is taking in the state of New Jersey.

"Short-range, we might have to downsize,'' Green said. "Long-range, we have to have the services that are really needed.''

Green said that would include an emergency room, an acute-care facility and other central services that don't necessarily compete with larger hospitals like JFK Medical Center in Edison (another Solaris facility), Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and Somerset Medical Center in Somerville.

"It would be more like a shopping mall,'' Green said. "We would be providing ample services where we can turn a profit.''

[Below this point transcribed by DD.]

Again, Green see this as part of the way health care is evolving in today's world.

"Already, we have a lot of doctors who are performing services off-campus," Green said. "We need to find a way to generate tax dollars for the city."

Green convened a task force of concerned citizens and administrators from surrounding hospitals in the wake of the Solaris announcement in February.

In the streamlined "medical mall" setup, Green envisions perhaps 100 beds in the acute-care facililty. Primarily, however, Green wants to make sure that Plainfield residents do not have to travel an extra half-hour or more to get the services they need -- especially for coronary care and childbirth.

On Wednesday, Gree said he expected Piscatellil to lay out a plan for the community and explan to the public what can be done.

In addition, Green is asking the state not to rush into ruling on the Solaris application to close the acute-care facililty. he also wants the state to keep the acute-care license open and Solaris to leave Muhlenberg intact until a decision can be made.

Solaris, however, does not share Green's vision.

"Solaris appreciates all that Assemblyman Green is doing in regards to Muhlenberg," said Solaris spokesman Steven Weiss. "Unfortunately, we are seeking a buyer who is capable of running the facility as an acute-care hospital. We continue to move forward with an orderly closure that allows Solaris to provide health-care services to the residents of the community."

On May 6, the State Health Planning Board conducted a public hearing on Solaris' application for a certificate of need for closure of the acute-care facility at the 130-year-old hospital. More than 1,200 people attended the hearing. Given the overflow crowd and the fact that not everyone who wished to speak could be heard, both Green and Judy Donlen, chairman of the board, asked for a second hearing. That is now scheduled for 6 p.m. June 5, also at the high school.

Solaris' announcement of its intention to close the acute-care facility and leave behind a satellite emergency roon, the school of nursing and several ancillary facilities touched off a round of protests, prayer vigils and rallies, both in Plainfield and at the statehouse in Trenton.

In addiiton, a "Buy Muhlenberg" movement was created by city Council candidate Olive Lynch, who last week convened a meeting of potential investors at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville. The investors met with two other members of Lynch's committee, Green and Ken Bateman, CEO of Somerset Medical Center, who had expressed interest in a potential partnership that would enable Muhlenberg to stay open.

"We needed to know that their interest was real," said Lynch, who thought that everyone at the meeting was excited by the possibilities and appeared to be on the same page. "We should be hearing back from them in the next few days."

Online story here.

(Note: Online stories may be taken down by their publisher after a period of time or made available for a fee. Links posted here is from the original online publication of this piece.)

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Anonymous said...

So, that's the story. Funny how at the meeting with Solaris in early May, McGee could not come up with a price at which Muhlenberg would sell, and all of a sudden now we hear about one.

And, what is a DEVELOPER doing running a hospital.

So, my take on this is that everything that had been done to save the hospital was for naught. The fix was in, and here it is. In my opion, Jerry Green did nothing to save the hospital, he always had this plan in his head and here we are. So sad - if the hospital stays open, that's great, but I believe Green will benefit greatly from it.

Also, can Muhlenberg condos be far off - considering a developer is going to be the owner.

Anonymous said...

Come one, more crap from Jerry Green! Community advocates should take a look at Green's campaign filings so they will see that Solaris CEO John McGee has contributed to the assemblyman. Jerry is a johnny-come-lately to the work that the community has been doing. The mayor is a member of the Muhlenberg board so she should know if she attended the meetings that Solaris had these plans. Wait until we see the campaign contributions she received. Jerry Green is not proposing anything more for Plainfield, he's not serious, he's just playing politics as usual. He is a shame and an embarrassment as a representative. Actually he is doing a good job of representing his corporate interests but we thought he was supposed to be our representative not theirs!

Anonymous said...

Just read this on Councilman Storch's blog. Storch was writing about how Jerry Green is using the hospital as a political football. Here is Storch's blog. It makes good reading.

Here's the post about Jerry and hospital politics:

I agree with you Councilman Storch. I was at the rally and the politicking was offensive as Assemblyman Green started picking on perceived enemies to exploit the the hospital crisis for political gain. Those of us who have begged him to have the governor come to Plainfield have gotten no satisfaction. It is angering to me as a P.O.P. person to see him using the hospital in this way. I have lived in Plainfield all my life and my parents who now live in Scotch Plains were at the rally with me. They didn't know who the local politicians were but they thought what he did stunk. My mother said he reminded her of Nixon with his paranoia.

Anonymous said...

Read this additional comment about the hospital. I saw one of these campaign signs:
Speaking of "exploit the hospital for political gain" has anyone seen the signs from Olive Lynch? She is exploiting the hospital issue even worse than Green with her signs for "Buy Muhlenberg" as if she is selling the hospital herself. As a longtime advocate for the hospital I see her trying to take credit for the work being done by longtime community activists. I signed up and supported the community initiative to buy the hospital but it bothers me to see that it is nothing more than a political ploy for her. When Iasked about it her people got mad as if I was committing sacrilege by even asking about it. She should be ashamed and I am going to ask P.O.P. to ask her not to use those signs. She is implying that she is the only person who cares about our hospital. This is exploiting it and that is shameful.

Anonymous said...

Jerry Green has tried to blame everyone else for the closing of Muhlenberg. He even called for the removal of Ron West from the Board. To be replaced by Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs. But in fact the Mayor is a board member by virtue of being Plainfield’s Mayor and if she was in regular attendance of board meeting she would have had a clue about Solaris’s plans for Muhlenberg. Her campaign message was she would be a fulltime Mayor with her hands on all that affected Plainfield. Well it seems she has fallen asleep at the switch once again and now Plainfield is fighting to pull itself out of the fire. But her come Jerry Green and Sharon Robinson-Briggs always for show and always full of sound and fury signifying nothing. WAKE UP PLAINFIELD WE NEED CHANGE!

Anonymous said...

Jerry Green has tried to blame everyone else for the closing of Muhlenberg. He even called for the removal of Ron West from the Board. To be replaced by Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs. But in fact the Mayor is a board member by virtue of being Plainfield’s Mayor and if she was in regular attendance of board meeting she would have had a clue about Solaris’s plans for Muhlenberg. Her campaign message was she would be a fulltime Mayor with her hands on all that affected Plainfield. Well it seems she has fallen asleep at the switch once again and now Plainfield is fighting to pull itself out of the fire. But her come Jerry Green and Sharon Robinson-Briggs always for show and always full of sound and fury signifying nothing. WAKE UP PLAINFIELD WE NEED CHANGE!

Anonymous said...

I agree with comment #3 about Olive Lynch. I'm not a P.O.P. member but I am friends with the local organizer Steve. I also signed on for the Buy Muhlenberg campaign and pledged $100! I know I felt "screwed" when her campaign signs started popping up this weekend.It does seem suspicious that she is now getting all this publicity for herself when she is planning for her bed and breakfast to open in September. She had a so-called porch event for her campaign but all I saw was a porch held up by some 2x4 studs, didn't look too safe. I think she should take the signs down, she is doing the same thing Jerry Green is doing, mixing politics with saving the hospital. I'm not naive, I know that politics is involved, but when she and Jerry use it to promote themselves is where I draw the line. I agree she should be ashamed. She has no vision beyond the bed and breakfast. Let's see how she markets her bed and breakfast when this is all over. If it goes on her biography and website we'll all know "we've been had."

Anonymous said...

Remove SHARON! from office.

Go to:

Anonymous said...

If Green's antics don't derail his candidates in the primary then Plainfield deserves him and his cronies.

If Jerry hadn't used up all of his political capital on removing Al McWilliams, he might have had some left over Muhlenberg.

Anonymous said...

I put the "Buy Muhlenberg" on my sign because saving Muhlenberg hospital is the primary issue I believe facing Plainfield right now and I've been working with everyone, including POP, to save the hospital. Also, since I started the BUY Muhlenberg effort, I thought it okay to put on my signs, showing that I'm the type of candidate who takes action ... just doesn't talk about solutions, but I'm doing what I can to solve the problem.

I'm sorry if that offended you. It was not my intention.

If you look at the letter to the editor I sent 5/20 to the Courier (Dan has it on CLIPS), I give full credit to all the people that have been involved in this ... from POP, to the very brave Muhlenberg employees, to the people who have written, marched, and done all they can.

I in no way think I am the only person who cares about the hospital or has put forth effort. If we are successful in saving the hospital ... it's everyone's success. Anyone claiming to be the sole hero in this is nuts. Something like this takes a LOT of people to come together. We're all doing what we can ... and I think a real credit to our community how we've worked together. I'm a citizen like everyone else, doing what I can. I just happen to also be running for office. For me, the keeping the hospital is far more important to me than getting a coucil seat.

At the time when I decided to run, there was no one else running except Don ... and I haven't been happy with his representation of the 3rd Ward.

I then decided if I was going to 'get political' and really involved in the community ... I better see what the heck was going on with the hospital, and I went to a POP meeting. Everything else I've done came out of that. I saw the need, jumped in and I've done my best to help.

I don't know what I've said or done to make anyone think that I'm claiming to be only person working on this problem. I've given credit to the many people who are working together on this effort.

If you want to talk to me about it, please call me.


Anonymous said...

This is for Miss Lynch. I am not one of the people who is offended by your sign but I do think you should think about how you can best help with the Muhlenberg situation. I know your heart is in the right place and there is a way that you could be even more effective. There are two candidates running who you should speak to to see how powerful your combined forces could be to defeat Don Davis and Harold Gibson. My wish would be for you to have a talk with Annie and Adrian and to throw your support and supporters behind their progressive effort to bring hope and change to Plainfield. In towns like this it really does come down to a few votes. Don Davis and Harold Gibson can be defeated. I urge you to look at the bigger picture and talk to Annie and Adrian. They support the hospital and have offered solutions that can help. They also offer solutions to the gridlock and stagnation that has occurred under the ineffective leadership of Davis, Gibson and their handler Jerry Green. This is a serious and critical time for our city. Please think about it.

Anonymous said...

All citizens have a right to participate in the voting process and should be encouraged to run. It is difficult enough to find individuals who are willing to step forward to be candidates. I think all those who are willing to serve the public should be applauded. I agree with the earlier anonymous, however, and think Olive Lynch should support Adrian Mapp, who is running against Don Davis for the 3 ward seat. Adrian has experience and leadership and his and Annie's ideas on how best to deal with Muhlenberg could be a plus for Olive and all the other citizens who are putting themselves out there for the hospital. In her own words, Olive says for her keeping the hospital is far more important than getting a council seat.Unfortunately being a one-issue candidate is detrimental to moving Plainfield forward. Now that the hospital issue is in the forefront of the local news thanks to everyone working together, her supporters would be more effective in voting Don Davis out of office by voting for Adrian Mapp as well as Annie McWilliams.