LOCAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS UNITE TO VOICE SUPPORT FOR SAINT MICHAEL’S
Newark, N.J.– More than a dozen local religious leaders united at Saint
Michael’s Medical Center on Monday, May 11, to demonstrate their
keep Saint Michael’s Medical Center open as a full service acute-care inpatient
facility. Speakers included Reverend Ronald Slaughter, Senior Pastor of
Saint James AME Church in Newark, Newark’s Central Ward Councilwoman
Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, and David A. Ricci, President and CEO, Saint
Michael’s Medical Center.
“We’re here to fight for justice, we’re here to fight
for you,” Rev. Slaughter told the hospital staff, physicians and
members of the community in attendance. “Ultimately this is about
freedom of choice.”
With the other present clergy members standing behind him, Rev. Slaughter
stated, “We fully support Saint Michael’s and we’re
going to do everything in our power so this state understands that we
will not settle for the closing of Saint Michael’s.”
Saint Michael’s signed an assetpurchase agreement with Prime Healthcare
in February of 2013—an acquisition which cannot be completed until
the State’s Health Department and Attorney General approve the deal.
Recently, Saint Michael’s has released a counter to a state-commissioned
study dubbed as the “Navigant Report” which suggests turning
Saint Michael’s into an outpatient center with emergency services,
a move which would negate the sale to Prime and ultimately lead to the
medical center’s closure.
In his remarks, Ricci acknowledged that while the medical center has countered
the Navigant suggestions, he is not advocating for the closure of any
facility in the greater Newark area, including Saint Michael’s.
“We are not here to take down or speak ill of any of the other hospitals…the
access that I think we need to provide and choice that we need to provide
to this community will not be helped by any one of us closing,”
he said. “We all need to be part of the fabric of this community.
We can’t tear apart a quilt because we want to fix a thread.”
Councilwoman Chaneyfield Jenkins began her remarks by quoting the late
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “An injustice anywhere is an injustice
everywhere.” She went on to stress the Newark Council’s support
to sell the hospital to Prime and keep it open as an acute-care facility
and the right to have choice when selecting a healthcare provider.
“This is an issue abut injustice in our inner city and the right
for choice,” she said. “There is a change that is coming to
healthcare but that change does not mean demolition of jobs, of access
and it does not mean that we do not have a right to choose what hospital
we want to go to. We need this hospital. There needs to be choice.”
The press conference took place on the first day of National Hospital Week.
A week focused on celebrating hospitals and the men and women who support
the health of their communities through dedication and compassionate care.
Thanking the dedicated Saint Michael’s staff for their steadfast
commitment and compassionate care during an uncertain time, Ricci said
to them, “What we need most of all is everything you’ve been
giving every day because the ones that benefit from that are the patients
that come here.”