A new University Hospital in Newark? Officials to make case to fund study examining issue

Proposed study, part of governor’s budget, would undoubtedly point to need for new facility

Since opening in 1979, University Hospital in Newark has grown into a health care facility that serves a great number of Newark residents — including more than 83,000 emergency room visits and nearly 16,000 in-person stays in 2002 alone.

The facility, however, hasn’t grown a bit.

Wednesday morning in Newark, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, University Hospital CEO Shereef Elnahal and a host of other area and health care officials will make the case that the state should approve a $500,000 budget line that will produce a study examining the need for a new facility.

Shereef Elnahal. (File photo)

Elnahal said the study is warranted — as is a new facility.

Elnahal said the 519-bed hospital is struggling to meet the growing needs of the community it serves. In addition to the ER visits and in-person stays, the facility had just under 200,000 outpatient clinic visits and delivered 1,318 babies last year.

As the Level 1 Trauma Center for northern New Jersey, Elnahal said the institution would benefit from an expanded capacity to deliver comprehensive care for people with critical and life-threatening injuries. And a new University Hospital facility also would allow the institution to better serve its mission as a principal teaching hospital of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School — allowing it to be a regional resource for advanced services across many medical specialties, he said.

“Since the Newark Accords were signed, it has been on University Hospital to deliver for Newark and Essex County, first and foremost,” Elnahal said. “With growing primary care needs of our community, lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, a budding, post-pandemic mental health crisis, and the community’s demand for more comprehensive and specialized care, our current facilities are bursting at the seams.

“A new, modern facility will allow us to meet and exceed these needs, in our quest to build a thriving and modern biomedical campus.”

It is estimated the facility already is facing the need for considerable capital investment — in the range of almost $250 million over five years — which will yield no tangible improvement in facilities or health outcomes.

Elnahal said any monies spent should make a difference.

“We have also proven worthy of these investments,” he said. “With marked improvements in quality, financial performance, regulatory compliance and near-universal achievement of all tasks placed upon us in the Governor’s 2018 Monitor’s Report, we are poised to design and execute on new campus for the community we serve.”

Oliver and Elnahal will be joined by Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Chancellor Brian Strom, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. and state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark).