Wednesday, April 30, 2008

THE SAGA OF A HOSPITAL CLOSING

Three decades ago this area witnessed the closing of another acute care hospital.

This is the tale of the Raritan Valley Hospital, and my intimate involvement.

By the early '60s there had been an extraordinary population explosion within the areas around Plainfield. There was pressure for building a new hospital in Edison and also to replace the antiquated and condemned privately owned Bound Brook Hospital.

Both objectives were completed by the end of the decade. The Edison hospital, JFK, ultimately in 1997 became the controlling partner in a union with Muhlenberg

A group had been formed to build a hospital in Green Brook Township close to Bound Brook. The intent was to able to better serve a large but developing rural area not easily covered by the hospitals in Somerville, Plainfield, New Brunswick, Morristown and Summit. There existed a good road network from the North, East and West of Bound Brook.

Unhappily, for unknown reasons, the new hospital, Raritan Valley Hospital was built on land within the Green Brook flood plane and was restricted to a two-story high building.

I had a substantial practice from the Dunellen and Middlesex area and obtained Staff privileges there in addition to Muhlenberg.

Although I did not like the fact that only a select five full-time employed physicians would have the sole power to act for the medical staff, there were many positive reasons for that choice.

I was particularly impressed with four of the full time doctors, who not only were extremely competent but also decent human beings. In my 45+ years in practice I can remember only a few other Radiologist who I held in as high regard as Raritan Valley’s.

The Internist, a qualified Cardiologist,was a warm and friendly individual who fortunately retained his position at NYU. The Pathologist was most knowledgeable and after leaving this hospital became professor of Pathology at a southern medical school. The Anesthesiologist was extremely competent.

The fifth full time physician, the Chief for Surgery, was not board certified.One of his qualifications was a distant relationship to the Chairman of the Hospital Board. This surgeon’s cases seemed to have an excessive morbidity rate. Also, regrettably, controversial medical care decisions in the "Medical Board” often resulted in a four to one vote, with the one vote being adopted by the Governing Board.

Ultimately, the other four members of the executive committee called for an open but informal staff meeting in the Hospital’s cafeteria to discuss the problem.I attended that meeting out of curiosity.

In the middle of that meeting, the Chairman of the Board entered the meeting room and interrupted the discussion. He said “This meeting is illegal. I will not have a hanging jury destroyed this brilliant young man. You are to leave at once."

The result was that no one left and an ad hoc volunteer medical staff was organized.
A steering committee was formed. Some one said Yood you’re the senior person here (I was in my early 40s so that was a shock, I was getting old) you are going to be our President! An astute Obstetrician from the Bound Brook/ Somerville area was the Vice President and chief motivator. Incidentally he had been born in Plainfield.

For the only time in my medical career, 100 percent of the physicians on the hospital staff contributed $100 to pay for legal action. We employed a lawyer recommended for his hospital expertise. Unfortunately we had little help from the State Society.

We met several times with the Executive Committee of the board and almost had straightened out for the problems when one of our steering committee members, a surgeon who had spent years in the army, unexpectedly spoke up saying "I charge this Board as deliberately trying to sabotage the medical staff."

To be continued

2 comments:

  1. Who holds the medical records for the patients who were treated in the ER? My boyfriend needs his records from when he was treated there for stroke/seizure symptoms

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    Replies
    1. RVH WAS TAKEN OVER BY THE MEDICAL SCHOOL. Rutgers University Hospital would have had the records but limitation statues may have expired.

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