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Coalition to Save Saint Michael's Medical Center Delivers Over 41,000 Signatures to Gov. Christie

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TRENTON – June 23, 2015 – Members of the Coalition to Save Saint Michael’s Medical Center traveled from Newark to the Statehouse in Trenton today to deliver petitions with more than 41,000 signatures urging Gov. Christie to approve the sale of the Newark hospital to Prime Healthcare.

The coalition delivered the petitions to the governor’s office after members of the coalition spoke about the importance of keeping Saint Michael’s open for Newark residents.

Prime Healthcare has an agreement to purchase Saint Michael’s Medical Center, but the administration of Gov. Christie has held up the sale for more than two years.

“We are here today to let the governor know that we want this hospital to stay open,” said Newark Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins, who has been leading the effort to keep the hospital open.

“Make no mistake about it. Closing Saint Michael’s Medical Center is about eliminating competition and when you eliminate competition,
you eliminate jobs,” Chaneyfield-Jenkins said. “As the Central Ward
Councilwoman, I will not stand by
and let that happen on my watch.”

Closing Saint Michael’s will result in the elimination of more than1,400 jobs and create a monopoly in in-patient health care services that will drive up costs while forcing patients to seek medical care outside of Newark for certain procedures.

“I'm a Newark resident and Saint Michael's is where I have always gone for care. The staff is compassionate, the doctors are the best, and I receive the care I need regardless of my insurance. Newark residents need Saint Michael’s to remain open,” said Karim Sharif, a Saint Michael’s patient.

The coalition has garnered widespread support from around the community, including elected officials, organized labor, and clergy.

“For the spiritual leaders of this community, keeping Saint Michael’s open is a moral issue,” said the Rev. Ronald Slaughter, the pastor of St. James AME Church in Newark, who has been leading and organizing the effort among the clergy.

“We have been raising our voices together in an effort to speak for those who can’t speak loud enough for themselves,” Slaughter said. “The underserved, underprivileged, and marginalized citizens of our community are entitled to the same health care as the rich.”

Unions that represent workers at the hospital are also supporting the sale of Saint Michael’s to Prime.

“Saint Michael's is home to more than 1,400 workers, and has served its community for nearly 150 years,” said Sue Cleary, District 1199J President. “At a time when Newark is growing, how can we think of closing yet another hospital in the city? It's unconscionable, and we stand united in saying we will not accept one more hospital closure.”

About 900 of Saint Michael’s employees are members of one of four unions while 300 are Newark residents and 700 reside in Essex County.

“Our message is clear, our goal is steadfast—approve the sale of Saint Michael's so we can keep our hospital open, save our jobs, and maintain healthcare for the residents of Newark,” said Douglas A. Placa, executive
director for JNESO District Council 1.

A study by Saint Michael’s found that recommendations proposed by an outside consulting firm for the Christie administration would create a monopoly in inpatient hospital services in the Newark area, potentially causing price increases amounting to as much as $180 million annually. Additionally, the recommendations would expose New Jersey taxpayers to $50 million in additional obligations.

“I have been treating patients at Saint Michael's for 27 years, and like many of the physicians at Saint Michael's, I choose to practice medicine here,” said Alan Klukowicz, M.D., president of medical staff at Saint Michael’s. “If Saint Michael's closes, we will have no choice, nor will the thousands of Newark residents. This can only lead to lower quality and higher costs of healthcare, which would devastate our community."

Prime Healthcare has saved 29 hospitals and 35,000 jobs in nine states nationwide and has never closed a hospital it has acquired. The company has agreed to keep Saint Michael’s open as an acute-care hospital, hire all current employees, invest $25 million into upgrading Saint Michael’s facilities, technology, and other hospital areas continue to operate within the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs), and continue Charity Care practices.

“With a committed partner, there is no reason to hold up the sale of Saint Michael’s any longer,” said David A. Ricci, president and CEO, Saint Michael’s Medical Center. “We are asking for the state’s expedient approval to preserve our ministry.”

The Newark City Council, Belleville Township Council and the Essex County Freeholder Board have all passed resolutions supporting the hospital.

About Saint Michael’s Medical Center

Established by the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor in 1867, Saint Michael’s is a 357-bed
regional tertiary-care, teaching, and research center in the heart of Newark’s business and educational district. Saint Michael’s Medical Center is currently a member of Trinity Health.Learn more at

About Prime Healthcare

Prime Healthcare is a national hospital system with 34 acute-care hospitals providing more than 35,000 jobs in 11 states. Based in California and one of the largest hospital systems in the country, Prime Healthcare is committed to ensuring access to quality healthcare. Learn more at