Murphy announces he will nominate Persichilli for health commissioner

File photo Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced his intention to nominate former University Hospital interim CEO Judith Persichilli to replace Department of Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal — who will be leaving the department to become the University Hospital CEO on July 15.

“Judy is a true health care professional, with keen insight into managing health systems to enhance the public good,” Murphy said in a statement Tuesday. “As Judy prepares to join my cabinet, I look forward to continuing the relationship we have built during her time as University Hospital monitor, so she can apply her singular talents for the benefit of all New Jerseyans.”

Persichilli is the first registered nurse who will ever hold the position.

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to continue serving the people of New Jersey as the commissioner of Department of Health and thank Gov. Murphy for entrusting me with this responsibility,” she said. “By bringing my deep experience in all aspects of health care to bear on improving the services the department provides, I look forward to tackling the challenges that lay ahead and implementing the governor’s agenda to build a New Jersey that stronger, fairer and healthier.”

Senate Health Committee Chair Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge) and Assembly Health Committee Chair Herb Conaway (D-Delran) voiced support for the selection in statements Tuesday.

Elnahal also supported the decision.

“With Ms. Persichilli’s selection, I cannot overemphasize how optimistic I am for the department’s future,” he said in a statement. “Her record of accomplishments in health care speaks for itself — but I have also seen her in action as a dynamic and engaging leader. I have full confidence that she will carry the governor’s health care priorities forward in an impactful way for New Jersey residents.”

Cathy Bennett, CEO and president of the New Jersey Hospital Association, and herself a former health commissioner, added:

“Two words: excellent choice. Judy Persichilli started her career as an RN at the bedside caring for patients. She remained true to that commitment as she became CEO at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, Catholic Health East and, more recently, interim CEO at University Hospital. In each position, she met the challenge not only of strong leadership and sound management, but she did so while never losing her focus on the patients, the community and the most vulnerable. That compassion is backed up by a strong grip on the complexities of health care today and a vision for health care’s future.

“On behalf of the NJHA board, we look forward to working with Judy to improve the health of the people of New Jersey.”