Troubled Newark Hospital Selects Current Monitor As Acting President And CEO

Source: New Jersey Spotlight

At a special meeting held yesterday, the Board of Directors at University Hospital appointed longtime nurse and industry executive Judy Persichilli as acting president and CEO, expressing confidence in her ability to help turn around the struggling facility. The group announced it is also launching a strategic planning process to “drive the future of the Hospital.”

The decision came just days after Persichilli, who was appointed by the state last summer to monitor University Hospital, released findings that identified deep-seated problems with leadership, communications and long-term planning at the facility.

Persichilli will be paid $300,000 a year, according to the hospital, a third of the salary Kastanis reportedly negotiated as part of a contract deal approved earlier this year.

The roughly 500-bed facility, a major teaching hospital for Rutgers University and one of three Level 1 trauma centers in New Jersey, has been under extra scrutiny since October, when state officials were alerted to a bacterial infection that had sickened four premature infants in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, three of whom eventually died. It was also the only acute-care facility in New Jersey, and one of just 30 nationwide, to receive a failing grade in a spring report from the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit watchdog, which has since raised University Hospital’s score to a D in their fall report.

Persichilli said she was impressed by the dedication she saw among employees throughout the organization during her time as the University Hospital monitor. “I look forward to continuing to work with the entire team and the Board on the journey to becoming a high reliability organization with a unified focus on quality and safety, and identifying a leader who can work with the community to maximize University Hospital’s potential as both an important public institution and a world-class academic medical center.”

State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal that Persichilli “not only brings a wealth of experience and a track record of success; she has worked diligently with hospital staff, leadership, and unions over the past several months to build a road map for meaningful improvement at the hospital.”

Among other things, Persichilli’s report urged University Hospital to do more to engage the Newark community, including by expanding public-health services and forming new partnerships with local organizations. This has also been a concern for local leaders, including Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and state Sen. Ron Rice, who represents the city.

The hospital employs 3,300 full-time workers and has ties with Rutgers University and RWJBarnabas, the massive healthcare system that joined with University Hospital in 2017 to help it beef up research capacity, medical education programs and clinical care outcomes. Those two entities now oversee the work of many of the doctors and other clinicians serving University Hospital.

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