Gov. Phil Murphy announced that he has selected Judith Persichilli, the current interim president and CEO of University Hospital in Newark as the state’s new health commissioner.
Persichilli, a nurse and the former CEO of CHE Trinity Health, was long considered among the top candidates to replace Shereef Elnahal, who’s leaving the department to take over for Persichilli at University Hospital.
Elnahal had appointed Persichilli to conduct a review of New Jersey’s only public hospital last year after health department officials found University’s management, led by John Kastanis, had removed beds from the facility’s inpatient pediatric unit without receiving the state’s approval. She later took over for Kastanis on an interim basis when he stepped down in December.
“For the past 11 months, Judy has been our point person at University Hospital to turn that institution around financially and administratively. By any measure her work has been a success,” Murphy said during a press conference in Ewing at which he formally announced Persichilli’s nomination. “I’m excited to have her join our administration.”
Persichilli, who also spoke at the press conference, said she was excited for the opportunity to advance major elements of Murphy’s health care agenda, which has emphasized programs to reduce the effects of the opioid addiction epidemic and improving infant and maternal health outcomes.
“It’s an agenda that sees health as a foundation of a stronger state. I have seen first hand of the social determinants have on health, when your zip code determines your destiny more than your genetic code,” she said. “I look forward to doing the best that I can, for the most that I can, for as long as I can.”
Murphy’s selection of Persichilli, which requires Senate confirmation, was promptly applauded by the New Jersey Hospital Association, which represents acute care facilities throughout the state, as well as the Health Professionals and Allied Employees, which represents roughly 13,000 nurses and health care professionals in New Jersey.
“While Ms. Persichilli boasts an impressive resume over the length of her nursing career, we recently gained even more respect for her in her current role as interim CEO at University Hospital in Newark — where she’s proven herself to be a forward-thinking fighter for patients and New Jersey’s most vulnerable populations at this safety net hospital,” HPAE President Debbie White said in a statement.