TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, a health-care watchdog in the State Senate, especially on issues involving the urban poor, issued the following statement today regarding ongoing reform efforts at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey:
“I’ve read with great interest the media coverage of the ethical troubles going on at UMDNJ. As the preeminent medical school in the State of New Jersey, I find the reports of alleged wrongdoing very disturbing, as the main interest of the University should be in educating our future doctors, and not enriching a corrupt few.
“However, that said, I do believe that the current president of the university, John Petillo, and other like-minded reformers at the school are making excellent strides towards a higher standard of ethical conduct for University officials. It’s from these efforts that lasting and major reforms will take place.
“It’s important that President Petillo be granted the opportunity to work with all stakeholders to keep the University on mission, and to root out any wrongdoing or potential management problems from the school. By undercutting his efforts at this crucial time, we would be crippling ongoing reform efforts before they are even allowed to bear fruit.
“We also need to keep in mind that the negative aspects of the current troubles at the University, and the public viewing of it, should not be allowed to overshadow the fact that UMDNJ is still known to be one of the top research facilities, and draws some of the top researchers and medical professionals in the country. We need to be wary of those who use the current ethical woes for political points, and cannot see that a scorched earth policy adversely affects many of the wonderful things going on at UMDNJ.
“A high level of scrutiny is always a positive, and in the end, is healthy to ensure a health care industry free from the corrupt and unfair practices that cause an inequity in the level of care accessible to the urban poor. However, we must give credit where credit is due, and not stifle the efforts of those individuals who are fighting for better care for all of us. John Petillo is one of the good guys, working to rid UMDNJ of its reputation for outright fraud, and he should be given the chance to realize that goal.”