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Meadowlands spokesman defends company's turnaround of troubled hospital

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A spokesman for Meadowlands Hospital and Medical Center said focusing on financial bureaucracy, and not patient outcomes, is part of a campaign to ignore the hospital’s “record of turning around a hospital with a sorry legacy to one that has had a storied turnaround by any measurement.”

Bill Maer, spokesman for the hospital, said in an e-mail that the discoveries of tax liens and a property sale publicized by the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union represent “another unbridled and recklessly false union attack on this hospital, which has some of the highest, documented patient care and satisfaction scores in the region.”

“Other than to say those tax liens have been paid, or are scheduled to be paid imminently, we see no public purpose in responding to contrived questions and false scenarios that are simply part of their ongoing and organizing efforts,” Maer said.

The union has raised questions about governance since the parent company, MHA LLC, purchased the hospital in November 2010. Last week, the union provided documents showing $4.5 million in tax liens from the federal government placed on the hospital, and a sale-and-lease deal for the hospital's property with a Canadian real estate investment group. The property was sold in December to MHR Investments, of Montreal, for $18 million, and leased back to MHA for 98 years.

The entry of for-profit hospital ownership in New Jersey has come with several reputational stumbling blocks in the past few years, including fines from the state government for MHA’s failure to provide audited financial statements. As of March 26, the hospital has been fined $12,000 for statements missing from 2011.

In response to the union’s concerns, Maer pointed out several achievements at the hospital in the past two years, including recognition from the federal government, as positive signs that Meadowlands is on its way back.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, through its Hospital Compare program, rated Meadowlands the best in Hudson County for eight of 10 operational areas, according to Maer, as well as the cleanest hospital in the state. Other rating guidelines, such as Healthgrades, also have recognized the hospital for its improvement in patient care areas.

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