Brace Yourself; Survey Reveals Worst Hospitals in New Jersey

Despite its apparent popularity, Hackensack University Medical Center was only rated two stars by the government.
Community Medical Center in Toms River was given a lowly two-star rating for patient care.
Jersey Shore University Medical Center was cited for having a higher prevalence of bloodstream infections than the national benchmark.

A just-released survey posted on a new government Medicare website has revealed that a number of New Jersey hospitals come out poorly when rated on different aspects of quality of care. As noted by, only eight of 64 hospitals in the state received four stars, the second-highest rating.

Shockingly, six New Jersey hospitals came out with only one star. These encompass Capital Health System – Fuld Campus in Trenton; Newark Beth Israel Medical Center; Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton; St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson; and University Hospital in Newark.

New Jersey hospitals actually produced worse rankings than the national average, with a majority getting a mere two stars. In sharp contrast, almost half of all hospitals nationwide received three stars based on government standards.

The ratings focused on whether the hospital provides timely and effective health care; whether it is able to avoid complications; its rates for readmission and deaths; its utilization of medical imaging; and the value of care for three common procedures.

Several of the state’s most popular hospitals, including Hackensack University Medical Center and Saint Barnabas Medical Center, received a surprisingly low two stars.

Community Medical Center in Toms River was rated at a measly two stars. Key factors behind that ranking included the facts that more patients were readmitted to the facility within 30 days than the national average, and that emergency department patients had longer-than-average wait times until receiving treatment. Moreover, 51 percent of those who had been patients at CMC said they would recommend the hospital, a lower percentage than the state and national averages.

Faring only slightly better was Southern Ocean Medical Center in Stafford, which earned three stars. The hospital was cited for having its emergency department patients wait an average of 410 minutes before being admitted to an in-patient room, a longer period than the state and national averages.

Another three-star rated hospital was Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. Unsettlingly, MRSA bloodstream infections at Riverview were worse than the national benchmark. And emergency department patients waited 34 minutes on average before being seen by a health care provider, an amount of time longer than the state and national averages.

The government gave Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood just three stars. This was greatly based on the fact that emergency department patients who are admitted to Monmouth wait on average 205 minutes before leaving for their room, longer than the state and national average.

Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune similarly got three stars from the government, which found that the MRSA bloodstream infections incurred by its patients were worse than the national benchmark. Moreover, the hospital’s emergency department patients spend a median of 200 minutes before leaving for home, a rate that is higher than the state and national averages.

Receiving a three-star rating as well, Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel was sharply criticized because its MRSA bloodstream and intestinal infections were worse than the national benchmark.

Among the few hospitals that received favorable ratings, the four-star rated Ocean Medical Center in Brick was commended for meeting or exceeding national benchmarks on hospital-acquired infections. But a sizable percent of patients complained that the area around their hospital room was often noisy at night.

Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch did rather well with a four-star rating. One reason is that 73 percent of patients would recommend the facility, a higher rate than both the United States and New Jersey rates. However, Monmouth was faulted because patients of its emergency department with broken bones waited an average of 70 minutes before being given pain medication, which is longer than the national and state average.

Finally, CentraState Medical Center in Freehold Township did pretty well with four stars. It scored highly because it meets the national benchmark on hospital-acquired infections, and there were no signs of unnecessary medical imaging tests. On the other hand, though, the hospital’s emergency room patients spend an average of 193 minutes before leaving, which is longer than the state and national average.

Sholom Schreiber