UNION COUNTY – The Union County Improvement Authority is currently accepting proposals from firms interested in “purchasing or leasing all or part of the property and/or operations” of Runnells Specialized Hospital in Berkeley Heights, which is currently owned and operated by the county.
The facility, which contains a 300-bed licensed long term care unit and a 44-bed licensed adult psychiatric care unit, had a deficit of more than $22 million for 2012, according to Union County spokesperson Sebastian D’Elia.
Proposals which would involve completely privatizing the facility, as well as options which would involve a combination of public and private operation and ownership will be considered. The Union County Improvement Authority will wait to see the proposals, which are due by Dec. 10, before choosing which option to pursue, according to D’Elia.
In May, Health Professionals and Allied Employees released a white paper arguing against the privatization of all or part of Runnells Specialized Hospital.
It cites quality of care concerns and hidden costs of privatization as reasons to consider other options, and suggests expanding the range of services offered and pursuing payments owed by other government programs and entities as ways of improving the hospital’s balance sheet.
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