Rice-Whelan Bill To Ensure Training For Hospital Trustees Approved

From left to right: Senators Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, and Dana Redd, D-Camden and Gloucester, listen to testimony before the Senate Health Committee.

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Jim Whelan which would guarantee that hospital trustees in New Jersey receive the appropriate training to prepare them for the job was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 35-2.

“New Jersey’s hospitals, particularly in many urban areas, are in crisis,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “Recently, it seems that every time I open the newspaper, I read about another hospital – serving mostly uninsured or the working poor – which is shutting its doors, because it cannot afford to continue to provide health care in the Garden State. Whether this is a sign of the times or an effect of sky-rocketing health care costs, we need well-trained hospital trustees who are prepared to roll with the punches and can navigate hospitals down the rough road ahead.”

The bill, S-1795, would require that all trustees in a general hospital receive training in the delivery of health care services. The training, established last year by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services in consultation with the New Jersey Hospital Association, the Hospital Alliance of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals, is designed to prepare hospital trustees for the financial, organizational, legal, regulatory or ethical issues they may face in governing a hospital. Under current law, only trustees approved after April 30, 2007 were required to undergo such training.

“There shouldn’t be a double-standard when it comes to the training necessary to run a hospital effectively,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “However, right, now, New Jersey allows for two different standards of training for hospital trustees hired either before or after April 30. Just because you’ve been in a job for more than a year doesn’t necessarily mean you have all the skills to do it proficiently, and we need to make sure that hospital trustees have all the tools and resources they need to oversee the safe and effective delivery of medical care in New Jersey.”

The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee last week. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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