Health Professionals and Allied Employees/AFT/AFL-CIO
110 Kinderkamack Road
Emerson, NJ 07630
Statement on the re-organization or privatization of Runnells Specialized Hospital
Barbara Egger RN, President HPAE Local 5112
February 21, 2013
Thank you for the opportunity to address the Freeholder Board this evening regarding Runnells Specialized Hospital and the presentation made by CHR at the February 7th meeting. My name is Barbara Egger, President of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) Local 5112. HPAE represents 12,000 nurses and health professionals across the state, including the 70 Registered Nurses at Runnells Specialized Hospital.
The presentation by CHR to the Union County Freeholders for the privatization and sale of Runnells Specialized Hospital was entirely focused on cost-saving measures, without any proposals for improving patient care and the delivery of health services to Union County residents. Nor did it propose how to maintain accountability to taxpayers and protect the rights of nurses and health care workers.
The continuing economic crisis in NJ has made an already turbulent health care environment more difficult. It appears the health care industry can appear to operate like Wall Street, chasing profits without proper oversight, accountability or transparency, with high administrative salaries and unnecessary patronage jobs.
Photo above: Barbara Egger Speaking at the Freeholders' Meeting, February 21, 2013
Health care delivery has and is changing dramatically. Increasing for-profit owners, declining reimbursements and the Affordable Care Act will create both challenges and opportunities for patients, governments and the healthcare workforce.
However, privatization of health care has not proven to be the answer. In fact, the reverse is true- privatization has more often decreased access and quality of health care and created a decline in working conditions, wages and retirement security of the healthcare workforce. At the same time, accountability and transparency to taxpayers is also diminished or lost entirely.
Before Union County decides the fate of Runnells Specialized Hospital I ask that you consider:
- Has there been a financial assessment regarding the expansion of the psychiatric ward and the potential need, costs and revenue?
- What would be the benefits of adding a geriatric psychiatric unit?
- What is the potential for adding an acute care psychiatric unit?
- Would the county consider using Runnells as an adult day care facility for county residents?
- Middlesex and Monmouth counties have found a formula for not only making their county facilities profitable but are in fact expanding their system. Has this board looked at what these counties are doing to protect patient services?
- What is the interest of CHR in actually buying or managing these facilities and will they be excluded from bidding on the hospital since they have been a consultant?
- What factor will you use to decide the future of Runnells Hospital?
- Will you commit to protect the working conditions and collective bargaining rights of the workforce?
- Will you commit to protecting access to care for Union County residents?
I respectfully ask that before there is any further discussion regarding the sale of the Runnells bed license or selling the entire of the hospital that you consider other methods of gaining revenue that will allow Runnells Specialized Hospital to remain open to the community and perhaps even expanding services.