After eight months of talks, a decision is expected tonight on whether Catholic Health East will assume ownership of Saint Michael’s, a heart center which it considers the only viable health care institution in the three-hospital Cathedral Healthcare system. Plans call for the smaller and more neighborhood-oriented Saint James, located in Newark’s Ironbound section, and Columbus Hospital, in the North Ward, to close in March.
Officials say that together the two hospitals, which serve a largely poor and uninsured population, have suffered losses of roughly $135 million dating back to 2005. A number of outpatient services, including urgent, prenatal and elder care, are expected to be offered at Saint James after its closing, but it is unclear whether any kind of primary care will remain at Columbus.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker said he is “furious” about the shutdowns, contending city officials have not been kept up-to-date by Cathedral on plans he feels are now clearly putting the health of city residents in danger. Booker and other city officials on Friday plan to hold a press conference outside Columbus Hospital, which he said may end up with no remaining healthcare services.