N.J. hospitals, community medical centers to receive $12M in federal funding

Published: Mar. 18, 2022

New Jersey will receive nearly $12 million in federal funds for hospitals and community health centers, a financial boost that political leaders and the state hospital association praised as critical, especially as many face unprecedented staffing shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a news conference Friday, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, both Democrats, said the federal funds — part of a sweeping $1.5 trillion spending bill that Congress approved last week and President Joe Biden signed Tuesday — will enable health facilities in New Jersey to upgrade and respond with more resilience to demands for services.

“The funding we are announcing today is critical in helping hospitals and health centers make the critical upgrades needed to meet our community’s needs today and into the future,” said Menendez at the event, which was held outside University Hospital in Newark. “New Jersey is home to many premiere medical institutions, and funding like this will ensure they continue to serve as beacons of quality health care.”

University Hospital, New Jersey’s only public acute-care facility and North Jersey’s sole Level 1 trauma center, is getting the largest amount — nearly $4 million.

The 519-bed hospital cares for the largest share of uninsured and underinsured patients in the state. It has played a vital role during the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit Essex County harder than any other New Jersey community. University Hospital was the site of a clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine in 2020 and twice received military medical help — most recently in January — during the pandemic to help its staff during surges.

The federal funding will help University move forward with plans to build a new trauma operating room, Dr. Stephanie Bonne, its trauma medical director, told NJ Advance Media.

The trauma center serves about 4,500 patients a year, Bonne said, about double the number from 2015. She said the uptick is due to several factors, including an aging population and a rise in violence during the pandemic. Bonne said the construction of a trauma operation room will reduce the time it would take to treat severely hurt or ill patients by 15 to 20 minutes.

“Rather than coming off an ambulance and having to go through the emergency room and upstairs for an operation, we will physically be able to take people straight off the ambulance and into the operating room if we anticipate they’ll need an urgent operation,” Bonne said. “When treating trauma, time matters — minutes, even seconds, can mean the difference between life and death.”

New Jersey Hospital Association President and CEO Cathy Bennett said the funding comes at an important time, when hospital COVID-19 caseloads have skyrocketed and many facilities have struggled with lost revenue stemming from a moratorium on elective procedures during pandemic peaks.

At the same time, many hospitals facing staffing shortages increased spending to cover overtime and enlist the help of staffing agencies, among other expenditures, NJHA spokesperson Kerry McKean Kelly told NJ Advance Media.

“New Jersey hospitals and their care teams performed valiantly during the pandemic, successfully caring for more than 100,000 COVID patients,” Bennett said in a statement. “But the road ahead will be a long one for our hospitals, which experienced the dual impact of lost revenue and the skyrocketing costs of providing care amid a global pandemic.

“We greatly appreciate the leadership of Senators Booker and Menendez in bringing this critical healthcare funding to New Jersey and ensuring that our hospitals will always be there for us — especially when we need them the most.”

The head of the state’s largest health workers’ union, Health Professionals and Allied Employees, praised the senators for securing the funding and criticized health care employers for not giving workers more support.

“Healthcare workers feel there is a vital disconnect between the sacrifices they are making on the frontlines of this pandemic and the protections and respect that they often are not receiving from their employers,” said Debbie White, HPAE president. “In this time of tremendous adversity for us as a society and for healthcare and essential frontline workers confronting a global pandemic, we thank Senators Menendez, Cory Booker and our New Jersey Congressional delegation for securing this much needed boost in resources to assist us in this most vital work.”

Christi Peace, deputy press secretary for Gov. Phil Murphy, said in a statement: “Every dollar counts when it comes to bolstering the quality and resiliency of our healthcare system.

“The Governor thanks Senators Menendez and Booker and the House delegation for securing this critical funding on behalf of New Jersey hospitals and community health centers so that they can better address the public health needs of residents, especially as we continue to recover from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The following facilities will receive funding from the federal spending bill:

— University Hospital, Newark, $3.8 million

— Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, Paramus, $2 million

— AtlantiCare Health System, Atlantic City, $1 million

— Deborah Heart and Lung Center, Pemberton, $1 million

— Capital Health System, Trenton, $925,000

— Metropolitan Family Health Network, Jersey City, $800,000

— Newton Medical Center, Newton, $750,000

— Ironbound Community Health Center, Newark, $550,000

— The Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, $513,000

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-03-19 03:17:28 -0700