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Op-Ed: Time for NJ to Expand Access to Life-Saving Elective Angioplasty

Calling on state lawmakers to pass a measure allowing qualified community hospitals to perform the procedure

Patrick J. Gavin
Patrick J. Gavin

On behalf of the New Jersey Coalition of Community Hospitals — Hunterdon Healthcare, Capital Health, St. Peter’s Healthcare, CentraState Healthcare, St. Clare’s Health, St. Luke’s University Health Network, and CarePoint Health — I am calling on key leaders within the state Legislature to swiftly act on and pass S-2427/A-3769. These bills require the New Jersey Department of Health to license certain qualifying hospitals to provide full service diagnostic cardiac catheterization, primary angioplasty, and elective angioplasty services.

The crucial legislation would allow qualified community hospitals in New Jersey to perform elective angioplasty procedures. The treatment inserts a small metal mesh tube called a stent to open a blocked artery, allowing for the continuation of life-saving blood flow to the heart. Currently, patients in seven counties who require elective angioplasty must travel to alternate facilities (sometimes out of state), impacting their safety and increasing the risk to them.

Multiple national studies have concluded that performing elective angioplasty procedures at facilities without on-site cardiac surgery is safe. New Jersey is one of only two states that have not promulgated regulations for conducting elective angioplasty at qualified facilities.

Community hospitals that can meet standards within the legislation need to be licensed to be able to provide this life-saving treatment to their patients and the communities that they serve. New Jersey Coalition of Community Hospital CEOs anticipate that S-2427/A-3769 will be posted at the next scheduled Senate and Assembly Health Committee meetings. They expect passage of the legislation as soon as possible, the measure signed into law, and regulations promulgated in 2019.

It is time to provide parity to our patients and hospitals in New Jersey counties with limited or no local access to elective angioplasty. This crucial healthcare issue impacts the lives of thousands of patients and needs final resolution.

Patrick J. Gavin is president and CEO of the Hunterdon Healthcare System.

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