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Crowd Rallies to Protest Hospital Cuts
Date:5/12/2008

TRENTON, N.J., May 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 2,000 hospital employees, patients and others concerned about the future of health care in New Jersey converged on the State House today in the "Care Today, Gone Tomorrow" rally to restore deep funding cuts to hospitals and nursing homes.

Toting signs that read "Some Cuts Never Heal" and "Imagine a Day Without Us," supporters urged Gov. Corzine and state lawmakers to restore the $143 million in charity care cuts proposed in the state's 2009 budget. With New Jersey already in the grips of a hospital closure crisis, the cuts jeopardize future access to hospital care for all New Jerseyans.

Among the many attendees was Mary Anne Marra, RN, of Clifton. She formerly worked at Columbus Hospital in Newark, and she shared her own personal experiences as Columbus has prepared to close. Marra said she was fortunate to be offered a position within the same health system, but she worries that other hospital workers whose facilities close may not be so lucky.

"I know well the impact un-reimbursed charity care can have on hospitals struggling to survive," said Marra. "As a staff member of a struggling facility, you worry about your patients. You worry about what will happen to them if they lose access to healthcare. You worry about your job security and that of your colleagues. You wonder whether you will be able to provide for your family."

Betsy Ryan, president-designee of the New Jersey Hospital Association, praised that commitment by the state's hospitals and their dedicated employees.

"When our patients need help, they know where to turn -- to their local community hospital," said Ryan. "But for some hospitals, these cuts will make it very difficult to continue providing that care in the future."

Ryan noted that New Jersey has lost 30 percent of its hospitals in the last 15 years. Twenty-two hospitals have closed in that span, with six closures occurring in
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SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association
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