Jersey hospital needs $5 million

December 30, 2008 5:52:43 PM PST
Kessler Memorial Hospital in Hammonton, New Jersey, may well be on life support.The hospital, which is not affiliated with any health system, has been serving the community for 40 years.

But, it may not last much longer.

Kessler officials say the hospital may need to shut down if they can't raise $5 million by mid-January.

It was just a year ago that Kessler emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Dr. John Schwika, a nephrologist, says closing Kessler could have life-or-death consequences for patients on dialysis in need of emergency care.

"25 minutes, 20 minutes. That could mean life or death when it could be three minutes," Dr. Schwika said.

Recently, Kessler was left out of a $44 million state aid package for medical centers. In addition, sources tell Action News the hospital doesn't get nearly enough money for charity care. Many of those cases are migrant workers who labor on farms in the hot summer.

Anthony Cassano is vice-chairman of the local ambulance company.

"Its very busy. We bring in probably 75% of their patients. Other towns are brought into here," Cassano said.

Among those towns is nearby Folsom Borough.

"If someone has a heart attack or a major emergency, a life-threatening situation, another 15 minutes to get to a hospital emergency room could mean life or death," said Mayor Thomas Ballistreri.

Kessler administrators say a lot of options are being looked at to ensure the health care of the community. Trying to raise $5 million in a couple of weeks is just one option.

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