More than 60 members of the Coalition to Save St. Michael’s Medical Center traveled from Newark to the Statehouse in Trenton June 23 to deliver petitions with more than 41,000 signatures urging Gov. Chris Christie to approve the sale of the Newark hospital to Prime Healthcare.
The coalition delivered the petitions to the governor’s office after members of the coalition spoke about the importance of keeping St. Michael’s open for Newark residents.
Prime Healthcare has an agreement to purchase St. Michael’s Medical Center, but the Christie administration has held up the sale for more than two years, the group said.
“We are here today to let the governor know that we want this hospital to stay open,” said Newark Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins, who has been leading the effort to keep the hospital open. “Make no mistake about it. Closing St. Michael’s Medical Center is about eliminating competition and when you eliminate competition, you eliminate jobs. As the Central Ward Councilwoman, I will not stand by and let that happen on my watch.”
Its closing could result in the elimination of more than 1,400 jobs and create a monopoly in in-patient health care services that will drive up costs while forcing patients to seek medical care outside of Newark for certain procedures, the group said.
“I’m a Newark resident and St. Michael’s is where I have always gone for care. The staff is compassionate, the doctors are the best, and I receive the care I need regardless of my insurance. Newark residents need St. Michael’s to remain open,” said Karim Sharif, a St. Michael’s patient.
“I have been treating patients at St. Michael›s for 27 years, and like many of the physicians at St. Michael›s, I choose to practice medicine here,” said Dr. Alan Klukowicz, president of the medical staff. “If St. Michael’s closes, we will have no choice, nor will the thousands of Newark residents. This can only lead to lower quality and higher costs of healthcare, which would devastate our community.”