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April   7

Mountainside: Last Gasp?

Last night’s public meeting with the Community Friends Of Mountainside Hospital (CFMH), the citizen/physician association that wants to acquire and operate the hospital, seemed a lot like a protest rally against the hospital's possible demise, with one speaker characterizing Mountainside as on the verge of extinction.

Montclair Mayor Ed Remsen said he and the township council fully support CFMH efforts to preserve Mountainside and oppose redevelopment of the site. “We don’t want to see the assets broken up and turned into apartment buildings, we don’t need the added pressure on our schools, more traffic." (Wow -- a vote against development in Montclair.)

Mayor Mel Levine of North Caldwell advocated putting pressure on officials, writing to legislators and congressmen. Richard Harries, longtime advocate of the hospital and spokesperson, painted a gloomy picture of the hospital’s fragile state. “The marriage is over. This is a divorce – Atlantic Health Systems (AHS) doesn’t want Mountainside. For the last 10 years, since AHS took over the hospital, it’s no secret there has never been a good relationship between the medical staff and  administration. The morale of the employees is broken. If we don’t have a plan and act fast, this hospital will be broken.”

Some 30,000 people came through the doors of Mountainside emergency room last year, a physician in the audience said.  Harries added, "What about the dialysis patients, renal patients, where are they going to go?"

The deadline for proposals has been extended to May 12. Andrew Mc Bride, retained as counsel for the association, says that while the proposal is very important, they feel under the gun with the four week timetable.  The proposal must contain a convincing legal, financial and clinical plan to successfully administer the facility. Part of the plan involves begging for money. “Everyone needs to know that Mountainside could close,” Harries says. “We need a huge groundswell of community support, and of course, you could open your check books.”

Harries also told Baristanet that in addition to the unanimous support of the medical staff, and an excellent proposal, the threat of public outcry and bad press may persuade AHS to give the hospital back to the community. To open your checkbook, click here.

April 7, 2006 in Buzz | Permalink


I just learned today (from my son's school nurse) that Mountainside no longer has a pediatrics dept. I didn't know that. She said she knew of a student who went into the ER with an appendicitis who was transferred to Morristown Memorial. Not sure how long ago that was though or when it closed.

Posted by: Surrounded | Apr 7, 2006 1:18:51 PM

I was with one of the 30,000 people who went to the Mountainside ER last year. We had just movd here when we had visitors up from Maryland. A trampoline accident meant a bunch of stitches being needed...what a relief to have Mountainside two miles away. My question is, where's the closest ER from here?

Posted by: Aussiebookguy | Apr 7, 2006 3:41:36 PM

I had the misfortune of landing in the Mountainside ER last weekend after the Montclair Ambulance Squad (nice guys) could not take me to St. Barnabas.
Certainly, understaffing and low morale was apparent as I endured a four plus hour experience in an 83 degree ER patient room, lack of communication from staff and a technician who spoke of being "a little lightheaded" after a 14 hour duty call and no food. Ah, what confidence I felt!
Fortunately, the Physician's Assistant was competent and my diagnosis of a whoppingly painful knee sprain ruled out the feared clot--which would have meant an extended stay in an institution that failed to convince me of its stability or expertise.
This is not to say that the almighty Barnabas monolith is perfect; it is not. Yet, my experiences in orthopaedics and oncology convince me that there is the possibility for human contact and compassion in addition to allopathic medical diagnosis.
Whomever buys Mountainside, I may be in touch. I can provide holistic support, resources and more than just a passing glance at people afraid, in pain and unhappy.

Posted by: Deborah | Apr 7, 2006 4:23:35 PM

Three years ago when my husband was diagnosed with cancer, people said "go to Hackensack" or "go to the city". We elected to stay right here at home. We had a wonderful doctor who did the surgery at Mountainside. My husband received excellent care both in the ICU and on the floor. Everyone was hardworking and caring. And how wonderful it was to me to be able to visit him everyday, just a few blocks away. A good local hospital is a treasure to be fought for. My husband is cancer-free now and we have all the trust in the world in Mountainside.

Posted by: A Glen Ridge Resident | Apr 7, 2006 5:28:20 PM

I located the NJ report for general hospitals for 2005. MHS scored solidly in the middle of the pack. Right at the 50% mark, but way off the 90th percentile

For a heart attack, you'd be much better off at St James in Newark or Irvington General than MHS.

For penumonia, MHS scored at almost exactly the middle of the pack, too. Morristown, Overlook, St James, Chilton, Hackensack, and Clara Maas all scored higher in both penumonia and heart attack protocols.

This report didn't have fatalities in surgery, so I'll look for that next.

Posted by: Paul from OB | Apr 7, 2006 5:50:13 PM

"I located the NJ report for general hospitals for 2005."

Do you have a link for that?

Posted by: crank | Apr 7, 2006 8:32:03 PM

I'm sorry, I thought I had linked to it.

There are 2003 and 2004 reports in the same directory. Similar results.

Proximity is nice, but I would have expected much better statistical results.

Posted by: Paul from OB | Apr 7, 2006 9:59:47 PM

Here's one comparison site: http://tinyurl.com/gdp2k

Posted by: Chris | Apr 7, 2006 10:30:39 PM


The usual < > format isn't working today...

Posted by: Paul from OB | Apr 7, 2006 10:52:21 PM

Thank you Mr Mayor.
Mountainside occupies a very valuable piece of property and there will be a lot of pressure from developers to shut it down so that it can be turned into whatever. Please make sure that this does not happen.

Posted by: Bitpusher | Apr 8, 2006 12:07:44 AM

"MHS scored solidly in the middle of the pack. Right at the 50% mark, but way off the 90th percentile"

Maybe, but its a lot better than nothing, which is what we will have if MH is allowed to shut down. It can't be improved after its gone.

Posted by: Bitpusher | Apr 8, 2006 1:12:16 AM

Mr. Mayor do not allow developers to take over the property on which Mountainside Hospital resides. I've been to their ER several times over the years for myself and my children and took comfort in knowing I was only a few miles from home and on my own turf at a very stressful time. Mountainside is not extinct only broken and this resident feels it can be repaired. Montclair is a great community, but will no longer be if bits and pieces of us are being taken away eg, the demise of the Marlboro Inn and now Mountainside Hospital. What the hell is going on??????

Posted by: Pat | Apr 8, 2006 7:21:40 AM

Thank you Baristanet for your continuing coverage of this story. I only hope and prayer that the hospital stays.

Posted by: Barsista Fan #99 | Apr 8, 2006 11:43:10 AM

Count me as another support of Montainside Hospital. To echo what some of the above posters wrote, it's nice to have a hospital right in your backyard. In a medical emergency, every minute counts so having a medical facility right on the Montclair-Glen Ridge border makes sense rather than having to make a longer trek to Livingston, Newark or Morristown.

I also agree with the comments made about the Atlantic Health System. I have a relative who's a nurse at Mountainside and she says that any time you have non-medical people making decisions about medical issues, it's a disaster waiting to happen.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Apr 8, 2006 12:03:14 PM

There is nothing on the savemountainside.org website telling me where to send my money. Could someone please let us know

Posted by: Bitpusher | Apr 8, 2006 12:37:35 PM

Thanks for those URLs, Paul from OB.

The info on this one - http://web.doh.state.nj.us/hpr/hpr2005.pdf#search='NJ%20hospital%20scores' - is ineresting but kind of weird. They judge efficacy of treating heart attacks by frequency of prescribing certain drugs to patients? It's one set of measures but a rather odd one, to my mind.

Someone had mentioned on another Mountainside thread that "minutes don't matter" - the theory is that cops or paramedics trained in CPR show up fast & keep you alive till you're in the ambulance & they keep you stable there.

That's all important, but I don't think it's that simple, based on my experience. My cardiologist led me to understand that I was about a half hour from death by the time they did the angioplasty on me (this was at a hospital near my home, not Mountainside). I was lucky that everything happened as quickly as it should, & that there was an excellent invasive cardiologist (he's the guy who does the angioplasty & inserts the stents) in the hospital at that moment. It was the end of his shift & he was just about to go home. I never found out exactly what it would have meant if I'd gotten there an hour later; i.e., I don't know if they have invasive cardiologists on site in shifts 24/7. Would my angioplasty have been delayed, perhaps crucially? It's a scary thought.

I don't think that much of what I experienced is reflected in how often that particular hospital prescribed drugs.

Anyway, I tend to think that minutes do matter, and it would be a shame to let Mountainside close.

Posted by: crank | Apr 8, 2006 12:48:15 PM

a lot of the problem at mh er is that atlantic healthcare fired all the longtime er staff doctors several years ago. our experience at mh er was that the med staff was caring and excellent but the admin staff was impossible. they were forcing er admits to 'wait their turn' rather than triaging acording to urgency of condition. which meant that we had to wait 25 excruciating minutes before seeing a dr who immediately put my dbf on a morphine drip! and keep in mind that was not a med decision - it was an admin decision that kept us waiting.

Posted by: kathy | Apr 8, 2006 6:11:50 PM

If that bis the case, then hopefully, once that AHC is gone, things will improve. Providing of course, MH remains a hospital

Posted by: Bitpusher | Apr 8, 2006 7:18:51 PM

Bitpusher, here's where to send $$ for membership($20)/donations :
CFMH, Inc.
24 East Greenbrook Road
North Caldwell, NJ 07006

Posted by: Annette | Apr 9, 2006 1:22:56 PM

Will do, Annette.
They should post that info on their website.

Posted by: Bitpusher | Apr 9, 2006 1:53:55 PM

This is the last update on the website? That in itself is discouraging.

"Mountainside Hospital is now in negotiation with Saint Barnabas Health
System. Results of the negotiations should be forthcoming in February, 2006."

Posted by: crank | Apr 9, 2006 2:07:42 PM

If you care about a hospital in your community you must do something, anything, to contribute. Unless of course you are speculating on a new condo located at 1 Bay Avenue

Posted by: Mountainside Doc | Apr 10, 2006 4:24:02 PM


What's the plan? How will the finances work? How is the plan feasible?

What - is - the - plan?

I'll contribute if someone can explain it to me. I keep going to websites which don't explain anything.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Apr 10, 2006 4:27:52 PM

Have you been to any of the meetings? Unfortunatly, they have all been on Thursday, which is a bad night for me, so I haven't.

Posted by: Bitpusher | Apr 10, 2006 4:37:10 PM


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