Union, lawmakers call for monitor for Meadowlands Hospital - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Union, lawmakers call for monitor for Meadowlands Hospital

The IRS slapped Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus with a $4.5 million lien last month — the "clearest sign yet" the for-profit facility is in trouble and needs a state-appointed monitor to supervise its operations, top officials from the employee union said today.

Meadowlands’ owners also recently sold the property on which the hospital sits for $18 million, making $3 million more than it cost to buy the nearly bankrupt hospital in 2011, said Ann Twomey, president of the Health professionals and Allied Employees union.

Taken together, "this presents to us a hospital in some financial difficulty, if not in crisis," Twomey said.

The union and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) called on the state Health Department to install an independent monitor to ensure patients and workers are protected from the hospital’s questionable business practices.

"The Department has taken the union’s concerns very seriously," state spokesman Donna Leusner said. Imposing a monitor "is one of the options that is under review."

Meadowlands spokesman Bill Maer called the unions statements "recklessly false."

"Other than to say those tax liens have been paid or are scheduled to be paid imminently, we see no public purpose in responding. . .The focus should be on (our) record of turning around a hospital with a sorry legacy to one that has had a storied turnaround by any measurement."

Canadian-based Rosdev bought the hospital property, and also owns the Empire Meadowlands Hotel, formerly the Crowne Plaza, on the same road. Rosdev pleaded guilty in 2010 to pumping sewage-laced water into the Hackensack River and paid a $75,000 fine. Rosdev officials could not be reached for comment.

Meadowlands is one of a number of for-profit hospitals making inroads in New Jersey. Prime Healthcare has agreements pending state approval to purchase Saint Mary’s in Passaic and Saint Michael’s in Newark.

The trend is worrying Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Senate health committee who also participated in the union’s media teleconference today. He said he plans to hold hearings on for-profit hospitals’ business models some time in May.

By Susan K. Livio and Dan Goldberg/The Star-Ledger