Citizens: Keep Solaris Off Emergency Council
The purpose of the ordinance was to add representatives of 15 diverse agencies and city departments to the Emergency Management Council that currently has just one director and two deputies.
Given that Solaris Health Systems sought and achieved closure of Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center despite months of protests and rallies, residents indicated they found the company's proposed inclusion on the council insulting. City residents who formerly counted on having an acute care facility within minutes must now be transported out of town to hospitals in Edison, Summit, Somerville or Morristown, in effect compounding medical emergencies by delays in treatment or overcrowding in the hospitals, speakers have said since Muhlenberg closed.
After hearing the outcry Monday, Council President Rashid Burney first tried to table the ordinance by executive power, but then made a motion to table. Burney, Councilwomen Linda Carter and Annie McWilliams and Councilman William Reid voted "yes" and Councilman Cory Storch voted "no" to table. Councilman Elliott Simmons was absent.
Earlier, Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson had reported on talks with Solaris over certain concessions sought by the administration and city groups following the closing. Plaintalker is leaving the fine points up to Mark Spivey, who has been reporting on the issue for the Courier News. Among the issues are the makeup of a Citizens Advisory Group provision of either an ambulance or ambulance service. The talks remain unresolved and the report apparently added to the residents' level of suspicion about Solaris Monday.