Monday, November 23, from 12 noon to 2 pm, is the grand opening of the new “JFK-Muhlenberg Satellite Emergency Department” at the corner of Park Avenue and Randolph Road.

I am so glad this is happening–JFK simply let the main building deteriorate, and a recent inspection found asbestos, mold, fallen tiles, as well as other problems. so I’m glad the ER will be out of there. The Planning Division and the Planning Board were very thorough, and insisted that the name “Muhlenberg” be included in the signage–and it has been.

We have a lot of people to thank, and I’m just going to mention three:  Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, Steven Hatcher, chairman of POP’s Plainfield branch, and Bennet Zurofsky, the labor & civil rights attorney who represented POP (and us) during the extended proceedings.  Larry and Steve organized the marches and rallies held before the closing–hundreds of people from Plainfield and neighboring communities joined them–and kept the “savehospital” slogan as long as possible.  The State Health Planning Board held an unprecedented second hearing in Plainfield–they scheduled the first one for the high school auditorium, which holds about 1500, probably anticipating that there wouldn’t be a lot of people there–instead, it was standing room only and they had to schedule a second hearing in the same place, which was also standing room only.  They did have a brief third hearing during their meeting near Trenton, and about 200 Plainfielders showed up–so clearly, the public had an impact.  The SHPB in approving the closing mandated that JFK keep the ER open for a minimum of 5 years, and they kept it open longer than that.  The fact that the new SED is opening (with Muhlenberg in its name) shows the impact we all had.

That’s what happens when a community comes together.  We may win or we may ultimately lose, but we show that we all care enough to take action–and it makes a difference!  JFK wanted to close Muhlenberg earlier, but we delayed it.  JFK wanted to put 600 “luxury apartments” on the hospital site, but community outrage put an end to that nonsense.

As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  Words of wisdom indeed!

PS, I haven’t blogged in a long time–been ill with an obscure respiratory virus which is all cleared up now.  But my immune system is shot (because of all the cancer drugs) so please don’t be offended if I’m wearing a mask–it’s simple self-protection.

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