TRENTON – Senator Brian Stack (D-Hudson) has announced plans to introduce legislation requiring hospitals to hold one public board meeting a month, a move that would provide members of the community with an opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns about care.
The senator’s proposal comes after he discovered first-hand the difficulty of getting answers from a local hospital, which cancelled his mother’s radiation treatment for lung cancer the morning of her appointment. The procedure was scheduled a month prior.
After making several phone calls, Senator Stack learned he was unable – in his individual capacity – to address board members at Hackensack University Medical Center to inquire about hospital policy. Senator Stack said he believes there are countless others experiencing similar problems at hospitals across the state.
Current state law requires hospitals to hold only one public meeting a year.
“The fact that there are no regular public board meetings at hospitals is absurd,” said Senator Stack. “Hospitals, especially those receiving taxpayer support, should be accountable to the community members they serve.”
The proposal would require all hospitals receiving state or federal funding to open their meetings to the public, and hold at least one meeting per month. Under the proposal, all meeting minutes would also be made public.
“It’s not Margaret Stack, but it’s the Margaret Stacks of the world that I’m concerned with,” said Senator Stack. “I’m concerned about all those individuals that are minorities, African-Americans, Hispanics, Arab-Americans, as well as the poor, who are not being serviced by hospitals in this state. I’m concerned about anyone who is encountering roadblocks when trying to get information about care.”
“This is about human decency,” the senator added. “My mother has me to advocate for her; many people don’t have anyone.”
The bill will be formally introduced when the Legislature returns from its budget break in May.