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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another slap in the face of Capital Health System

More than a few eyebrows were raised in City Council Tuesday because of an administration-sponsored resolution.

The resolution would award a $338,000 contract to Robert Wood Johnson Occupational and Corporate Health of Hamilton for occupational health services and emergency medical services for the Department of Administration.

The $338,000 contract is significantly more expensive than the current month-to-month deal the city has with Capital Health System, a contract that also follows the city's mantra of trying to use the services of entities from Trenton.

The awarding of the more expensive contract to an outside company could be due to hard feelings between Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and CHS after the health provider announced plans to relocated its Mercer Campus in the West Ward to a site in Hopewell Township, sources said.

The Capital Health System deal charges the city $17,500 a month for the same services - in what would amount to an annual contract of $210,000 - saving the city nearly $130,000 dollars more each year in health care costs for the Department of Administration than under the proposed resolution.

"What about keeping Trenton dollars in Trenton," Councilman Jim Coston said.

Director of Personnel Raissa Walker said the city selected the more expensive contract because of unspecified complaints about the Capital Health System's services.

Trenton resident and CHS employee Zachary Chester said he wanted City Council to find out the nature of these unspecified complaints before they awarded the contract to the Hamilton firm.

"This contract has always been in Trenton, residents and employees could go right to the hospital on Brunswick Ave," said Mr. Chester. "Council should inquire about these problems with CHS, and ask those questions."

A negative vote on the resolution would continue the city's reliance on the month-to-month plan, according to City Council President Paul Pintella.

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