Fewer Facilities: Corzine Encourages Closings

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STATE—While the state health department report focused on quality, quantity has been a problem plaguing medical care in the Garden State as the Corzine administration follows a policy encouraging hospitals to shut down.

“Unfortunately, because we have too many beds, some hospitals may need to close,” state health chief Heather Howard told lawmakers last year. “When a hospital closes, it may make other hospitals stronger in that area.”

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The nation’s most densely populated and second wealthiest state, New Jersey had 112 hospitals 20 years ago. Today it has 71.

Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center in Plainfield was the 18th hospital to close in New Jersey since 2000.

New Jersey has seen nine hospitals close in the last two years and more could follow.

“We need to let market forces take effect, which may mean hospitals will close,” said Howard.

“We fear the ultimate losers will be New Jersey’s residents, many of whom will see more hospital closures, job cuts and service reductions in their communities,” said Betsy Ryan, president of the New Jersey Hospital Association.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that more efficient hospitals were less likely to stay open than facilities in areas with low minority populations.

Readers can view that study at http://www.rwjf.org/reports/grr/028054.htm.


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