NEWARK – Mayor Cory Booker told the joint Assembly and Senate Higher Education Committee today that he had “tremendous concerns” about a reorganization plan that calls for transferring control of University Hospital from public to private hands. University Hospital is part of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
He said the plan could put Newark and the state in a precarious situation, compromise the largest city’s reputation for higher education and delivery of health care services, destabilize the city’s economy, and put at risk the jobs of more than 1,000 Newark residents who work at the hospital.
“We need to preserve as many jobs as possible,” he told the lawmakers who had convened today’s hearing into the implications of the state’s plan to reorganize UMDNJ and other institutions.
He added it will make it more difficult to attract the best staff and research funding, ramifications that go beyond Newark, because the hospital serves as the main trauma center in the area.
“This is too important of a regional hub for us to do anything to weaken the strength we have,” he said.
He added that the hospital serves as a “safety net” for charity care patients and others who are ” often left out of the equation.”
“We must have a hospital like this … serving the working poor and poor New Jerseyans,” he said. “We will lose one of the last resorts for so many people.”
With so much focus on teaching hospitals being aligned with Rowan and Rutgers universities, Newark’s main hospital is being put on “a second-class status,” Booker said. “This is highly problematic for us…There are many, many concerns.”
People at the hearing at the UMDNJ Dental School held up signs reading “Save University Hospital” and “Hands off University Hospital.”