State appoints monitor for Newark’s University Hospital in wake of repeated troubles

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an order Friday authorizing Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal to appoint a monitor for University Hospital in Newark.

Elnahal named Judy Persichilli, a veteran health care executive, to the post.

The order follows concerns about the quality of care and financial health of the medical center, according to the Governor’s Office.

“Given the scope of problems found at University Hospital, these immediate actions are necessary to ensure the facility can continue providing the highest level of care to the community while it gets its fiscal house in order and improves its health care quality,” Murphy said in a prepared statement.

The monitor would review expenditures and assess the level of services provided, in the wake of a failing grade from the Leapfrog Group, bond downgrades and an attempt to reduce pediatric beds without approval.

University Hospital issued a statement later Friday:

“In the last several years, University Hospital has taken a variety of steps to address financial challenges while providing access to high-quality care for all patients. The hospital has made changes to its administrative and clinical leadership, and diligently implemented new programs focused on patient safety and quality of care. We recognize there is much work left to be done, and look forward to working collaboratively with Ms. Persichilli, as well as our state and local elected officials and regulatory agencies, to accelerate progress at University Hospital.”

University Hospital is one of the state’s three Level I trauma centers and has more than 2,900 employees. It will receive more than $43.3 million in the fiscal 2019 state budget, along with $10 million for a self-insurance reserve fund.

“I applaud Gov. Murphy’s swift and decisive action in appointing a monitor for University Hospital,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement. “University Hospital is central to providing health care to Newark residents, and I have been very concerned about the quality of care at the hospital, their failure to live up to the Newark Agreement negotiated when the hospital was created, their attempt to reduce the number of pediatric beds without consulting myself or the governor, and the failing grade their received on their level of care from the Leapfrog Group. The appointment of a monitor will assure that University Hospital gets its house in order.”

Persichilli, the executive appointed to the role, is president emerita of CHE Trinity Health and former interim CEO and president of the organization. She has also served as CEO and president of Catholic Health East and CEO of St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton.

Read more from ROI-NJ on the state’s Leapfrog scores: