Community and Labor Groups Host Town Hall Event - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Community and Labor Groups Host Town Hall Event

July 11, 2018

Concerns for the Future of UH’s In-Patient Pediatric Services & Public Healthcare in Newark

Labor and community organizations sponsored a Town Hall Event on Wednesday, July 11th to bring together the community for an open conversation about the future of public healthcare in Newark. Specifically following the abrupt closure and re-opening of in-patient pediatric services and the partnership being forged between Rutgers and RWJ Barnabas there remain many unanswered questions of intentions.

Representing thousands of unionized health professionals and community members the following spoke in opposition to effort to reduce public healthcare services in Newark and throughout New Jersey:

  • “As health professionals, we will advocate for our patients and the community to keep public healthcare services in Newark. Labor and community groups know that a united, strong voice will force decisionmakers to keep the public informed and give us say in protecting the future of University Hospital,” said Cynthia McDougall, RN and President of HPAE Local 5089.
  • “NJ Appleseed is very concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability to the community as University Hospital seeks to transform itself, hopefully to improve quality and access to care for all Newark residents. We want the officers of the Hospital to engage Newark residents in their decisions so that the community can make sure that no matter the micro-service changes made, University will maintain its status as a public institution with its legal mandate to provide health care, including primary care, for the indigent and uninsured in the Greater Newark area,” said Renee Steinhagen, Esq., Executive Director of NJ Appleseed.
  • “Rutgers should slow down with its ambitions and come clean with its plans for moving faculty and residents away from University Hospital,” said Diomedes Tsitouras, Executive Director AAUP-BHSNJ.
  • “Under no circumstances can we allow our only Public Hospital to eliminate such vital services for so many of our children in an area this size,” said a stunned Lawrence Hamm, upon learning of the stakes of the crisis in their General Assembly meeting last week.
  • Tom Murphy, Research Teaching Specialist, Co-President of HPAE Local 5094 said, “We are very concerned about the lack of transparency and refusal by Rutgers to share the precise details of the affiliation agreement with the public,” Murphy said. “When a public institution such as Rutgers enters into an affiliation agreement with a private company there must be over-sight and transparency, yet either entity is required to disclose this information with patients, workers and the community.”
  • “Rutgers is embarking on an extensive partnership with RWJ Barnabas without any concern for existing contracts with its unions. Rutgers should do the right thing and put their guarantees of job protections in writing.” said Kathleen Hernandez, EVP CWA Local 1031, AFL-CIO

Currently the NJ Department of Health is reviewing a pending application to close University Hospital in-patient pediatric and pediatric ICU units in Newark.  The proposal indicates pediatric patients at University Hospital will be transferred to a RWJ Barnabas hospital, Newark Beth Israel. The coalition will continue to press for answers on how public money is being spent, the impact on services provided to patients and the future of healthcare delivery in Newark.

For more information: Bridget Devane, (732) 996-5493

The newly formed coalition includes: labor unions, which represent 20,000 members in public healthcare at Rutgers Health and University Hospital, including, NJ AFL-CIO, AAUP, AFT, CWA, AFSCME, FOP, SEIU; and community organizations including NJ Appleseed, People’s Organization for Progress, New Hope Baptist Church, NJ Communities United, NJ Citizen Action and We Care Partners.