Building that needs no introduction: Department of Health HQ to be named for Persichilli

In recognition of her service to the people of New Jersey during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s top officials announced Friday that the new Department of Health building in downtown Trenton will be named after Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

The state-of-the art-facility, completed in late 2020, houses Department of Health workspace and offices in downtown Trenton. It will be named the Judith M. Persichilli Building.

Gov. Phil Murphy said it was a well-deserved honor.

“Each and every day throughout the pandemic, Judy has remained singularly engaged to save lives and protect public health,” he said. “She has been the right leader for these times, and I could not be prouder to have asked Judy to serve as commissioner two years ago.

“Now, all those who pass through the halls of the Judith M. Persichilli Building will be reminded of Judy’s selfless, honorable and dedicated service to our state and its residents during the greatest public health crisis in New Jersey’s history.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) agreed.

“This is a fitting tribute to the tireless efforts of Judy Persichilli to safeguard the health and safety of New Jerseyans in the past year,” he said. “Thanks to her leadership as commissioner of health, our state was able to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and this was only the latest achievement in a long and impressive career in health care. I am proud to call Judy a friend, and I will be equally proud to see her name on this impressive new headquarters for the Department of Health.”

Persichilli, a registered nurse, began serving as acting commissioner of health on Aug. 5, 2019. She was confirmed by the state Senate on Jan. 9, 2020.

Prior to leading the department, Persichilli served as acting CEO of University Hospital in Newark. She was president emerita of CHE Trinity Health, the health ministry formed in May 2013 by the consolidation of Catholic Health East and Trinity Health of Livonia, Michigan. She previously served as the interim CEO of CHE Trinity Health. Prior to this appointment, she was CEO of Catholic Health East.

Persichilli received her nursing diploma from the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in nursing summa cum laude from Rutgers University and a Master of Arts in administration summa cum laude from Rider University.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) said it is a fitting honor.

“On the front lines of New Jersey’s pandemic response, it comes as no surprise Commissioner Persichilli has become a household name,” he said. “Working to keep New Jerseyans informed, but, above all, safe and healthy, the renaming is a fitting honor to memorialize her incredibly diligent and dedicated leadership of the NJDOH.”

Additional comments:

  • University Hospital President Shereef Elnahal: “We’ve been on this journey with the community from the beginning, breaking through hesitancy by genuinely acknowledging the history of medical racism, and eventually changing the narrative to one that emphasizes vaccination against COVID-19 as the first of many steps toward health equity. And I cannot think of a more deserving person than Commissioner Persichilli to be recognized with her namesake on a building where critical public health work will happen for generations to come. On the eve of Juneteenth, we are proud of the commissioner, proud of this milestone and proud of this day and everything it signifies.”
  • Inspira Health CEO Amy Mansue: “As a veteran health care executive, Judy Persichilli combined her expertise with compassion, and her leadership allowed New Jersey hospitals to continue to meet the needs of the people who came to our doors through a global pandemic. We are indebted to her for her sacrifice and forever grateful.”
  • Cooper Health co-CEO Kevin O’Dowd: “I applaud Gov. Murphy for naming the New Jersey Department of Health headquarters building after Commissioner Persichilli, who has dedicated her life to serving others as a health care professional and leader. Having the privilege of serving as the state’s Southern Region coordinator for COVID-19 response, I see firsthand the positive impact Commissioner Persichilli’s daily dedication and tireless work ethic has for residents of New Jersey during the pandemic. I can think of no more fitting honor — after working for more than 20 years with the dedicated professionals of the New Jersey Department of Health — than to name the headquarters building after one of their own, Commissioner Persichilli.”