Thursday, May 01, 2008

BOE Reschedules for Sake of Hearing

The Board of Education will shift its meeting next week from Tuesday to Monday so members may attend a public hearing on the proposed closing of Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center.

The May 6 meeting was moved to May 5 after Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs appeared at the annual board reorganization to urge members’ attendance at the hearing.

Earlier this week, City Council members agreed to attend the hearing, but will issue a joint statement to be delivered May 6 by Council President Harold Gibson. Speakers will get three minutes each in the two-hour session and the seven-member council decided not to give individual comments

The State Health Planning Board will conduct the hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, in the Plainfield High School auditorium, 950 Park Avenue. Comments may also be made in writing and may either be submitted at the hearing or sent by May 13 to New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Market & Warren Streets, P.O. Box 360, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0360.

Residents of Plainfield and surrounding communities have held numerous rallies against the closing, citing possible deaths as patients with life-threatening conditions will have to be transported to more remote hospitals. The hospital is the city’s largest employer and its closing will mean job loss that could seriously impact the region’s economy, opponents say.

Hospital officials say Muhlenberg has suffered unsustainable losses of revenue, at the rate of $18 million a year, and cannot survive. Officials say attempts to sell the hospital have failed, although a local group has formed a “Buy Muhlenberg” campaign to save it as a community hospital.

--Bernice Paglia


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