Friday, May 2, 2014

Planners Approve New Satellite Emergency Department

Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center won preliminary site plan approval Thursday for a new satellite emergency department in Kenyon House, replacing the old one in the shuttered hospital.

The Planning Board still expects to hear how several stipulations will be carried out before final approval, but meanwhile internal renovations can begin at Kenyon House. The SED will occupy the first floor and a dialysis center will remain on the second floor.
The attentive crowd in City Hall Library included many activists who fought to keep the hospital open and who still want nothing less than a full-service medical facility on the campus. Planning Board Chairman Ron Scott-Bey allowed questions and comments, but with reminders that the board could only respond regarding the application for the case before them.

The new 12,000-square foot SED will have eight patient beds and three ambulatory stations in addition to X-ray and CT scan equipment and various labs. A new garage will house two ambulances. New LED signage will direct traffic to the relocated SED. There will also be a trauma triage room, a negative pressure room to isolate patients with airborne diseases and a behavioral health room. A natural gas line will be installed to power an emergency  generator.
Planning Board concerns included the size and design of directional signs to the Randolph Road entrance and banning left turns onto Park Avenue, except for emergency vehicles. On Thursday, the board took up resident April Stefel's suggestion that the Randolph Road grounds be landscaped rather than just using foundation plantings to disguise a former door on that side of Kenyon House.

Among public comments Thursday, Dr. Harold Yood said curtains to separate patient beds would not offer sufficient privacy. He also said to be called an emergency room, the facility should have the capability of treating coronary and stroke victims with anti-coagulants.

Activist Dottie Gutenkauf had many comments and questions, including what if a SED patient wanted to be transferred to a hospital other than JFK Medical Center. Frank Tsemberlis, JFK's vice president for corporate facilities, said the patient would first have to have a physician at the other hospital in order to be admitted. The patient would then have to get their own ambulance to go to the hospital.

Resident Nancy Piwowar told the hospital representatives at Thursday's meetings that people are telling her they are not being treated right at JFK Medical Center.

"The feeling in the community is that they don't want us there," she said.

Speakers also said people didn't know about special services at the SED and requested signs at the new location listing them.

When Muhlenberg closed in 2008, the SED was to remain for only five years, but stayed open. Tsemberlis said of the Planning Board approval Thursday, "We think it's great," and said he was pleased that the new SED will continue to provide health care to Plainfield and surrounding communities.

Many residents who attended the Planning Board meeting also went to three community forums on what people want to see on the Muhlenberg campus. They emphatically do not want a 600-apartment complex as envisioned by JFK Health System. Their views were collected as part of a city-sponsored study by Heyer, Gruel & Associates, who expect to issue a final report this summer.



  1. No disrespect to Dottie Gutenkauf, as I heard a comment or two when I left. I prefer to leave between speakers when possible, but I knew I absolutely had to leave by 9:45. Left at 9:50. That's how it was.

    David Rutherford

  2. Pat Turner KavanaughMay 2, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    Bernice: Dr. Yood decried the useof curtains to create "private spaces"for patients in the SED. I tried repeatedly to ask whether that is the practice in the much-touted new ER in Edison.I couldn't get recognized. We also never heard whether heart patients can receive appropriate treatment at the SED: I guess that means the answer is "NO." Bad news for all those old folks like me.

  3. Bernice, eight beds are woefully inadequate to serve the Plainfield community. The overload will be immediate, and the "SED" will become an auto-feed to the new, $30 million "state of the art" facility on JFK's Edison site.
    Having taken the hospital, the very least JFK can provide us with is an identical ED.

  4. Claire Baney Tucker posted the above comment.

  5. Please don't bang your head against this wall, you may end up in the ER and you don't want to kill youself. Obviously the people we hire to take care of our need don't care about us at all. This one isen't payed enough, that one is gettin payed quite a bit for that, you know the drill, money talks and the rest of us can take a long walk off a short pier. Plainfields are great, their leaders, less so, even if they aren't "carpetbaggers".
    A week after the elections there will be 660 units on the MRMC property, the moving of this SED is a prelude. Its all written on the wall your beating your head against. They want what they want and no matter how much you stand up against it, you can not win. The game is fixed and if you are not paying or being payed you are not in the game.You and your opinions don't count. You know nothing. Keep on electing the same people and you will keep on getting the same results.
    God bless

  6. Bernice, What happens to people who go to JFK SED and need further assistance, but their doctors are not affiliated with JFK?

    Do they even go to the SED or to their affiliated Doctor's hospital?

    1. A JFK representative said once the patient is stable and able to leave the ER they will print out their records and give them to you to take to your doctor or hospital of your choice. Robin B.

  7. Dottie GutenkaufMay 2, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    The Certificate of Need approval said JFK had to keep the SED open for AT LEAST five years or for a MINIMUM of five years (I forget the exact wording, sorry). There are a lot of conditions and I'm looking forward to seeing the list.