Nurses at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic agree to concessions

22 11 2009

Unionized employees at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic have tentatively agreed to a new contract that extends pay cuts and other concessions until the hospital begins to recover financially.

More than 500 nurses, technicians and other workers ratified a three-year contract, which goes into effect when the current contract expires on Feb. 28. The new pact continues court-assigned concessions until St. Mary’s reorganization plan is approved, at which time the nurses expect the hospital to begin restoring their pay in increments.

The employees have worked with a 5 percent pay cut — later reduced to a 4 percent cut by the hospital — and other concessions since March, when St. Mary’s declared bankruptcy, citing debts of $100 million.

Attorneys for the non-profit, 292-bed acute-care hospital filed a reorganization plan this month with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark and have until Jan. 6 for creditors to accept the plan.

The unions and St. Mary’s, who have been negotiating for months with an independent mediator, were pleased with the settlement.

“We had a mutually agreed upon mediator, who made compromise recommendations that turned out to be fairly reasonable,” said Virginia Tracy, executive director of JNESO, the union that represents 357 nurses and 131 technicians at St. Mary’s.

“It’s not ideal, but it gives them a chance to get back on their feet and us to get back what we lost,” Tracy said.

Another union, Operating Engineers Local 68, represents 20 licensed boiler room workers and other employees.

“Having the support of [the] unions, whose contracts were fully ratified this month, is an important step forward for the hospital,” Vanessa Warner, a spokeswoman for St. Mary’s, said in a statement Friday.

As part of the agreement, St. Mary’s will restore 2 percent of the workers’ wages when the court approves the reorganization plan; then 1 percent more in March, and another 1 percent in June, Tracy said. The hospital would also resume the employees’ annual “step” raise, an average 40 cents per hour increase, she said.

The hospital will not reinstate a paid half-hour lunch for employees, she said. But it will pay time-and-a-half to a 12-hour shift worker who is not relieved by another worker in order to eat, she said.

“The difference between now and when the hospital filed for bankruptcy is that we’re hopeful for the first time in a long time that progress can be made,” Tracy said.

The union was concerned that the hospital would reject its contract altogether if it didn’t agree to temporarily continue the concessions, Tracy said. “If they’re going to make it, they need cash and a few months to get a leg up to be successful,” she said.

“The employees are definitely going to cast their lot with management. The new administration has made some positive changes that we can see,” Tracy said. A new president and new chief financial officer took over St. Mary’s last summer.

A recent report by the court-appointed patient care ombudsman agreed.

“There are no issues at this time with regard to maintaining quality of care provided by St. Mary’s Hospital,” the ombudsman, Daniel T. McMurray, said in court documents.

A hearing on the sale of St. Mary’s former hospital site at 211 Pennington Ave. will be held on Dec. 8.

On Dec. 9, St. Mary’s will hold a public meeting to discuss hospital finances, future plans, services and community benefit programs. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the hospital, located at 350 Boulevard.

A hearing on the hospital’s Chapter 11 disclosure statement will be held Dec. 18.

The 114-year old St. Mary’s is the sole survivor of Passaic’s three hospitals.



Pedestrian Struck This Afternoon

8 10 2009

hatzolahPassaic Park– A pedestrian crossing the street, was struck by an auto at 6:40 PM tonight. The pedestrian was at the the intersection of  Van Houten Ave and Waverly Place. Passaic police department, E.M.S, the Fire department, as well as Hatzolah EMS were all on scene. The patient was transported to the hospital by Passaic Fire EMS in stable condition.

TRENTON: Training change for EMTs sought

25 06 2009

emt patchLooking to ease demands on a training fund for emergency medical technicians from which $4 million is being taken to balance the state budget, state lawmakers are moving to extend EMT certifications from three years to five.

The New Jersey State First Aid Council, which supports the bill, says the change wouldn’t fix the dilemma looming for the training fund, which is projected to have almost no money remaining by next summer.

But the council says the change would allow time to replenish the fund, which is financed through 50-cent surcharges on all moving violations, by reducing demands to pay for EMT training for a few years and provide a window to figure out a long-term plan.

“While this bill will provide some help, it will not solve the problem,” said Howard Meyer, a 38-year EMT who is legislative director of the New Jersey State First Aid Council. He said additional laws will be needed within the next year.

“Other than having $2.4 million returned to the fund, there have been no other suggestions brought forward on how we can assist the volunteer EMT training community quickly, and quick action is needed now,” Meyer said.

Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington, said Gov. Jon S. Corzine ought to consider using part of the state’s unexpectedly large collections from its tax amnesty program — $617 million and counting, easily topping the $200 million expected — to avoid raiding the EMT fund.

“We know that we have $400 million more. Why not wait to see what’s going to happen in the budget as it is rejiggered to see if this is actually needed? Since it is based on the funds being stolen, maybe they don’t have to be,” Allen said.

The bill was approved 24-14 by the Senate last Thursday and is now before an Assembly committee. It requires approvals there, by the full Assembly and by Corzine before it can become law and wouldn’t take effect until more than six months after it is enacted.

Fire On High Street In Passaic

24 12 2008
A fire broke out tonight on High Street near Boulevard in a home belonging to a Frum family, completely gutting it. Hatzolah of North Jersey and local EMS was on the scene, but thankfully the home was empty and their services were not needed. No injuries were reported to the firefighting crews who responded in from Clifton, Paterson, Wallington, Carlstadt, and as far out as wayne,  to assist the Passaic Fire Department in this 3 alarm fire. The house destroyed was in fact the Merilis Family.

Police Car Crashes, Sgt. Curses at Hatzolah Volunteers Trying to Offer Aid; Delays Care

28 07 2008
NYPD police care after the crash. Witnesses stated the car was speeding with lights on, but no sirens, and failed to slow at the intersection.

NYPD police car after the crash. Witnesses stated the car was speeding with lights on, but no sirens, and failed to slow at the intersection.

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — A police cruiser slammed into a 15 passenger van at around 9:30 Sunday night. The incident took place in the intersection of Albany Avenue and Carroll Street where a 15 passenger van, driven by a Jewish man, heading down Carroll was broadsided by a police cruiser coming down Albany.

Multiple eye witnesses stated that they observed the police car driving with only its lights flashing and no sirens, and when approaching the intersection the police car did not slow down. Police officers on scene said the police car did not appear to be responding to an emergency.

The two vehicles collided and the van ended up on the sidewalk.

Hatzalah and the police arrived on scene within moments, but the lack of professionalism on the police’s behalf reared its ugly head on scene.

One Hatzalah member immediately walked up to the police car and began giving care to one of the officers and just as he began stabilizing Sgt. Walls of the 71st Precinct walked up to the member and told him to “take his @#$! and move away”, the member was taken aback and walked away.

Other Hatzalah members evaluated the driver and passenger from the van, both of whom did not require medical attention, B”H.

After the sergeant gave Hatzalah the boot some 7 Hatzolah members were seen standing on the side along with other curious onlookers instead of giving the care they are supposed to.

After 7 minutes the first EMS ambulance arrived on scene and 25 minutes later the second ambulance arrived on scene. Both officers were transported to Kings County Hospital for checkup and observation. (

Record Number of Jewish Ambulances in Passaic on Sunday!

28 07 2008
File photo of a Hatzolah Ambulance in Passaic

File photo of a Hatzolah Ambulance in Passaic

Passaic, NJ – Sunday evening between 6:30 and 6:45 pm, a record number of Jewish ambulances were spotted in Passaic.

And here is the rundown (can I have a drumroll please):

1 Hatzolah of North Jersey ambulance driving down Bond Street.

2 Hatzolah of North Jersey ambulances parked on Reid Avenue (facing in the appropriate directions!).

1 Hatzolah of Passaic / Clifton EMS ambulance parked on the corner of Brook Avenue and Dakota Street (probably distant enough from the corner to avoid ticket-hungry and possibly tape-measure-toting cops).

1 Rutherford Volunteer Ambulance parked in the bus stop (yes, illegally, as all ambulances except ones with Hebrew lettering can do in Passaic) across from the kosher pizzeria on Main Avenue. (Jewish volunteers deserve pizza too.)

1 Pulse Medical Transportation ambulance (marked “SCTU”) driving down Van Houten Avenue in Passaic, with two yarmulka-wearing EMTs inside.

1 Pulse Medical Transportation ambulance (not marked “SCTU”) driving down Main Avenue in Passaic, with one yarmulka-wearing EMT inside.

Get the world records book people on the line! Now Passaic can boast of not only holding the (dubious) record for the town with the most Hatzolah organizations (2), but also of the most Jewish-operated ambulances at one time within a 6 block radius!

In related news, while parked on Main Avenue, someone was overheard asking the driver of the Rutherford ambulance if they were the third Hatzolah in town! PCJN Staff