The high hopes associated with the start of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “ObamaCare” have yet to fully pan out the way many local health care operators had expected. Over the last year, Hudson County’s three major health organizations, which run the hospitals, have been expanding services in order to appeal to a wider demographic and draw in more patients, and to try to find a model for care that takes advantage of the changed health insurance environment.
In some ways, Hudson County has become a laboratory for a national experiment, pitting for-profit hospitals against non-profits to see which model will work best in the extremely competitive medical field.
The three main medical care providers – CarePoint Health, Jersey City Medical Center, and HackensackUMC Palisades – have each expanded services and in some cases delved into new concepts inspired by smart phones and social media.
The big question is which business model will be able to sustain itself in an environment of increased competition and reduced reimbursement from insurance companies and other health providers.
While CarePoint, which operates three for-profit hospitals in Hudson County (Hoboken Medical Center, Bayonne Medical Center, and Christ Hospital), has played down recent layoffs of employees, the move suggests that the for-profit hospital network is doing some belt tightening after several years of intense expansion.
Time will tell if this is a trend or just a blip in development, and whether the for-profit concept will continue to grow as the model for the future.
Meanwhile, the not-for-profit hospitals appear to be gaining strength, partly through innovative programs and closer ties to municipalities and joint projects. They tend to accept a wider array of insurances than the for-profit models. But not-for-profit hospitals are not without their own concerns, as indicated by a recent move by the township of North Bergen to force Palisades Medical Center to pay property taxes, and other moves by the state to look more closely at not-for-profit financing.
This year saw the launching of CitiBike Jersey City, a health initiative that was sponsored by CarePoint and Jersey City Medical Center, suggesting that such combined efforts between the medical giants might become another positive direction for providing services.
Over the last two years, hospitals have been building networks of private medical practices as another means of steering patients into their facilities. Some have developed stand-alone clinics in order to counter the continuing threat from small one-stop centers and small medical clinics that drain the patient pool.
The big trend for hospital survival appears to be innovation, and each of the hospital groups appear to be trying to carve out their own particular niche of expertise, some covering similar areas but in their own fashion.
For instance, Jersey City Medical Center-Barnabas Health has partnered with local unions to help train people as EMTs. CarePoint is expected to launch a similar program in Bayonne connected to the local school district there.
All of the medical groups appear to be upgrading facilities, expanding equipment, and gaining certification in particular areas of healthcare.
Jersey City Medical Center- Barnabas Health’s year of growth
Over the past 12 months Jersey City Medical Center, a Barnabas Health facility, has witnessed unparalleled growth and change, with blueprints in place for additional expansion in the near future.
“We’ve experienced a remarkable period of unprecedented growth both on our campus in Jersey City and throughout Hudson County during this time,” said Joseph F. Scott, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer. “This means more jobs and expanded services for the communities throughout Hudson County we serve.”
JCMC opened a new Women’s Health Center at Grove Street (116 Newark Ave.) This is a spa-like setting designed by women for women, and includes imaging services (mammography, ultrasound, bone density, x-ray), holistic services (including integrative medicine, midwifery, post-partum doula, nutritional counseling, acupuncture and chiropractor) and traditional services (plastic surgery, OB/Gyn, rheumatology and endocrinology.)
Also opened this year was Cath Lab No. 3, a facility with contemporary technology to improve safety by minimizing radiation exposure to patients and staff. The facility also provides clinical applications that enhance patient diagnosis and allow for safe coronary and peripheral interventions, and streamlines information that improves workflow and optimizes productivity in those diagnostic and interventional cardiology procedures used in treating coronary artery and peripheral vascular disease.
CareChex, a national independent rating company recently scored Jersey City Medical Center-Barnabas Health at 97.3 percent and called it the top hospital in the state for medical excellence in heart attack treatment.
Perhaps one of the bigger pieces of news this year is the reopening of a complete new facility at the site of the former Greenville Hospital in Jersey City. Closed in 2008, the facility has been completely repurposed to provide such medical services as an urgent care center, an HIV treatment center, primary and specialty physicians’ offices, and programs for children with special needs. As many as 200 people are now employed in the building and additional programs are planned.
JCMC also opened a new Cardiac Diagnostic Center at 120 Franklin St., a full service outpatient cardiac imaging facility offering echocardiograms, exercise stress tests, and nuclear stress tests in a private and convenient location.
Solidifying its presence in the southern portion of the county, JCMC announced the new “Barnabas Health at Bayonne,” which is expected to be completed during 2017. The building will include a 24/7 emergency department, imaging center, laboratory draw station, women’s health services, pediatrics, outpatient physical therapy, and primary and specialty care practices, as well as areas for community health education and a 300-space parking garage. Services will be provided in-network with all major insurance plans accepted.
For the past eight years, Jersey City Medical Center has focused on its goal of being in the top 10 percent of all healthcare organizations in the U.S. As a result of these efforts, Jersey City Medical Center received the VoPE Award, which is the highest quality achievement award presented on the state level following the Malcolm Baldridge criteria for organizational excellence.
JCMC was also recognized for its Wealth from Health program, which provides incentives to engage patients, families, and caregivers in education, care management, and healthy behaviors. The program serves approximately 2,500 adults and children with complex chronic diseases, including asthma, sickle-cell anemia, HIV, renal stage disease, and behavioral health issues.
In conjunction with the city of Jersey City, JCMC kicked off a new first responder program. Modeled on an Israeli-based emergency response system, United Rescue Jersey City uses trained volunteers to respond to 911 calls with lightning-fast speed.
JCMC also opened a new Orthopedic Institute with eight newly-redesigned private inpatient rooms. The institute prides itself on its ability to work with complicated cases. This includes those surgical cases that were not performed successfully at other facilities and need to be redone.
In addition, JCMC was identified as New Jersey’s leading hospital with under 350 beds in a study conducted by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., the nation’s most respected health care research and information company. The hospital also was recognized eight consecutive times with the Leapfrog Award for hospital safety and in 2014 and 2015 with the HEI – Health Equality Index Award for being a national leader in LGBT care.
HackensackUMC Palisades is expanding
Perhaps the most significant recent news for HackensackUMC Palisades ( formerly Palisades Medical Center) in North Bergen is its merger with the Hackensack University Health Network.
“Our affiliation with Hackensack University Health Network has provided our community residents with access to exceptional specialty services in their own backyard,” said Bruce J. Markowitz, president and CEO of Palisades Health Care System. “We are very proud to partner with the leading healthcare organization in the region , and we are excited with the opportunity it represents to improve the health of our communities.”
Hospital officials hope this change, along with other significant moves, will allow the hospital to meet the challenges of the new healthcare environment.
In 2015, Palisades opened its new on-campus Medical Office Building. This 57,000-square-foot facility provides state-of-the-art ambulatory and specialty care services for residents that previously had to travel outside of our local communities for services. The Medical Office Building includes the John Theurer Cancer Center, the Palisades Women’s Group, a dialysis center, Sleep-Wake Center, and other multi-disciplinary specialties.
In the coming year, new HackensackUMC clinical institutes will also be represented in the Medical Office Building.
In addition, Palisades’ Patient Care Units have all been renovated to optimize comfort, safety, privacy and care of patients. The new units feature all-new furnishings, and nursing stations have also been updated to strengthen patient monitoring.
Its Graduate Medical Education Program has been expanded to include 117 residents that specialize in Dermatology, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Podiatry, and a Gastroenterology Fellowship.
As a result of its efforts to foster community relationships, HUMCP was ranked among the top hospitals in the state by Inside Jersey magazine and Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. for the second year in a row. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association also recognized Palisades with their 2015 Get With The Guidelines Gold-Plus Quality Achievement Awards for the Medical Center’s treatment of heart failure and stroke patients.
Modern Healthcare magazine has also recognized Palisades with its Best Places to Work in Healthcare Award.
The Harborage was honored as a Top Nursing Home by U.S. News & World Report and also received a 5-star rating from both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
This year, the opening of the new John Theurer Cancer Center at Palisades will provide the same advanced cancer treatment as currently available at the Hackensack campus.
Also, Palisades Medical Center now features a Neonatal Level 2 Nursery, as part of its affiliation with HackensackUMC.
In 2015, HUMCP opened its new Medical Office Building, a 57,000-square-foot facility that provides ambulatory and specialty care services, including Hackensack University Medical Center’s John Theurer Cancer Center and other multi-disciplinary specialties.
HUMCP also opened its new Sleep-Wake Center in the newly-constructed Medical Office Building on the Palisades campus at 7650 River Road in North Bergen. The Sleep-Wake Center at Palisades is a nationally-accredited center and its new location offers modern and luxurious rooms and amenities designed to make patients feel relaxed and right at home.
Other recognitions the HUMCP received this year included the New Jersey’s Department of Health and Senior Services awarded HUMCP a perfect 100 score for treatment of heart attack patients. HUMCP’s Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program earned National Certification by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. HUMCP is the first hospital in Hudson and Bergen counties to receive the prestigious International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Care Award for excellence in lactation care.
HUMCP received several awards from the March of Dimes for its leadership support during the past year. HUMCP received “Top Corporate Team” awards for Hudson County and North Jersey after raising more than $31,000 to support the March of Dimes.
CarePoint looks ahead to provide contemporary services
Perhaps the most unique programs introduced this year were by CarePoint. Keeping up with contemporary transportation and handheld applications such as Uber and other services, the hospital network has established a concierge program that will allow patients to more quickly schedule appointments, get access to test results and other medical information, obtain referrals, and work with insurance provides to navigate billing questions and concerns.
Another unique program offered by CarePoint would allow emergency room patients with non-life-threatening issues to call ahead and make a reservation, thus avoiding waiting times at any of the three hospitals in its network.
This year, all three CarePoint hospitals have been designated as lung cancer screening centers by the American College of Radiation.
CarePoint Health is still the only system in Hudson County to have all of its hospitals offer certified lung cancer screening.
“This designation further affirms CarePoint Health’s dedication to providing superior healthcare services to the nearly 300,000 people who come through our doors each year,” said Dr. Nizar Kifaieh, CarePoint Health chief medical officer. “Lung cancer screening has been shown to significantly reduce death associated with the disease.”
McCabe Ambulance, which provides service to the three CarePoint hospitals, introduced new enhancements. Some of these include the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for patients with breathing problems and pulse oximeters to guide the administration of oxygen.
McCabe Ambulance has also successfully implemented a program where EMTs can activate a “Code Stroke” from the field, which allows them to immediately refer stroke patients for a CAT Scan, providing more prompt diagnosis and speedier treatment.
Six residents have been recruited for a new general surgery residency in the CarePoint Health system.
Bayonne Medical Center will serve as the host platform for the launching of the new residency program but the medical students will assist on teaching service cases and cover on-call shifts throughout the CarePoint Health system, which includes BMC, Christ Hospital in Jersey City, and Hoboken University Medical Center. CarePoint Health plans to expand existing programs as needed in July 2016 and introduce more residency programs in additional areas of clinical care.
Claiming it is the first such facility in Hudson County, CarePoint introduced its 3D mammography (breast tomosynthesis) at CarePoint Health-Christ Hospital for breast cancer screening. Breast tomosynthesis produces a three-dimensional view of the breast tissue that helps radiologists identify and characterize individual breast structures without the confusion of overlapping tissue. Breast cancer screening with tomosynthesis, when combined with a conventional 2D mammography, has a 40 percent higher invasive cancer detection rate than conventional 2D mammography alone.
Carepoint opened its new Comprehensive Women and Children’s Center in Hoboken, the first of three women and children’s centers to open, designed to allow women and children seamless care through pediatric primary care providers and pediatric subspecialists with providers focused on women’s health.
CarePoint and Fresenius North America, through its subsidiary Shiel Medical Laboratory (Shiel), a reference laboratory offering clinical, anatomic pathology and molecular testing services to the greater New York and New Jersey area, partnered this year to provide outreach laboratory testing services to physicians, nursing homes, and other providers within the CarePoint Health System and beyond.
In another collaboration, CarePoint was recently awarded U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Gold Level Recognition for its efforts to increase enrollment in the New Jersey state organ donor registry and spread the life-saving message of organ and tissue donation. CarePoint joined 45 hospitals in the NJ Sharing Network service area recognized by HRSA.
Meanwhile Bayonne Medical Center was recognized for excellence in accountability measures for the treatment of heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, venous thromboembolism (VTE) and stroke. BMC was recognized as a 2014 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in the United States.