Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Muhlenberg - Courier - Green attacks Board president West

Published in the Courier News, Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Green calls for chairman's resignation


PLAINFIELD — Assemblyman Gerald Green has called for the resignation of Ronald West, the chairman of Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center's board of directors, citing his "unwillingness to work with elected officials and members of the public in ongoing efforts to keep the hospital open."

Green, D-Plainfield, sent a letter requesting West's resignation to John P. McGee, president and CEO of Solaris Health System, the parent company of Muhlenberg. In the letter, Green cited West's "repeated noninvolvement" as one of the primary reasons for his removal.

Solaris announced in February its intention to downsize the 130-year-old medical center, retaining a satellite emergency room, an imaging center and a school of nursing on the Plainfield campus.

In the wake of the announcement, Green convened a task force of community leaders and representatives of surrounding hospitals that would be affected by the decision.

"Chairman West's indifferent attitude towards the health and well-being of Muhlenberg Regional and the people it serves and his continued refusal to be an active part of community discussions to save the hospital leave no other alternative than to ask for his immediate resignation," Green said. "We held rallies, we created a community task force, we did everything we could think of to show our sincere interest in saving the hospital. Yet, despite our continuing efforts, Mr. West never once met with us to allay public concerns or explain the hospital's position to the public."

Green said a member of the public who "has been invested in the preservation of the hospital" should be appointed.

"The public needs someone they can trust," Green said. "Someone they know will fight for their best interests."

To that end, Green has suggested replacing West with either Plainfield Mayor Sharon M. Robinson-Briggs or Colleen M. Mahr, the mayor of Fanwood. Both women are members of Green's task force.

In response, McGee on Monday issued the following statement:

"Throughout the closure process, I have been the designated spokesperson of the board of directors for both Solaris Health System and Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center. To that end, it is my responsibility to meet with elected officials and members of the public, as well as to serve on the community health care task force. I will speak with the Solaris board of directors about Assemblyman Green's suggestion that there should be board representation in discussions with the community. Having worked closely with Ronald West over the past 10 years, there is no reason for the Solaris board to consider the request for his resignation."

Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center is a 396-bed acute care facility that provides inpatient and outpatient services in all major medical specialties.

Plainfield's largest employer, the hospital retains a staff of more than 1,100 employees, 350 affiliated physicians and more than 600 auxiliary staffers and volunteers.

Citing operating deficits — an estimated $17 million in 2007 — Solaris attempted to find a buyer for the facility. After four months and no serious offers, Solaris announced the downsizing, starting with its acute-care facility. Solaris officials have said they would try to retain up to one-third of Muhlenberg's work force at other Solaris facilities (including JFK Medical Center in Edison).

In March, Muhlenberg officials filed a certificate of need for closure with the state Department of Health and Senior Services in Trenton.

Since the announcement, the Peoples Organization for Progress has organized four rallies to protest the decision. Three of those rallies took place at Muhlenberg, at the corner of Randolph Road and Park Avenue. A fourth rally took place Saturday on the steps of the Statehouse in Trenton.

"Residents of the greater Plainfield area need to know someone is fighting for them to keep Muhlenberg Regional open," Green said. "I am confident that with new leadership, we can find a way to keep the hospital open to patients."


At first I was filled with hope that Mr. Green was doing for the community what he should. Then I continued reading and then saw the typical Mr. Green tactic of transparently grabbing for power. Mr. Green wants one of his proteges to be installed as a board member to better serve the community? Ms. Robinson-Briggs?

Who are we kidding? Ms. Robinson-Briggs is barely serving the community in her official capacity as Mayor of Plainfield. We only see her at meetings at the Senior Center and at ceremonies where she is surrounded by her unnecessary body guards.

Posted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:09 am

Online story here. Archived here.

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Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.