TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senator Paul Sarlo and Senator Bob Gordon to create a county hospital authority to oversee the Bergen County Regional Medical Center was approved today by the Senate.
“Bergen County Regional Medical Center must be able to appropriately serve the needs of our region and the state. With the current 19-year contract coming to a close, it is important now to take action and set up the appropriate board to oversee the facility,” said Senator Weinberg. “This legislation will give a county hospital authority direct oversight of a private manager, permitting the authority to manage and oversee the hospital in a responsible way to ensure its effective operation.”
“Creating a county level authority empowered to provide oversight of the hospital is the best way to ensure the facility is operating safely and is able to meet the needs of those in its care,” said Senator Sarlo. “It will provide for stronger and more direct oversight of the medical center, which is crucial not only for the immediate future but for the facility’s success for years to come.”
“This legislation will allow for a county hospital authority to assume the responsibility for the operation of the Bergen County Regional Medical Center, which we believe will better protect the integrity of its operations and ensure proper safeguards are put in place,” said Senator Gordon. “This creates the defined structure that is needed to make sure that both patients and employees are safe and cared for in the way they should be.”
The bill (S-2361) allows the governing body of a county that owns a county hospital to create by ordinance a “County Hospital Authority” for the sole purpose of operating and maintaining a county hospital. The authority would exercise its powers and duties to manage and operate a county hospital through a contract or contracts with a manager.
Management contracts could be entered into for a 15-year term, and could be renewed for a five-year term. The bill provides that despite the existence of a management entity, the hospital authority would be primarily responsible for operating the county hospital.
The local hospital authority would be governed by an 11-member board with the membership as follows:
- the chief executive officer of the county;
- two members appointed by the medical staff executive committee of the hospital;
- five public members, four of whom shall be residents of the county, appointed by the chief executive officer of the county with the advice and consent of the freeholder board. At least two of the public member appointments shall have special expertise as follows: one with extensive expertise in finance of private or nonprofit organizations and one with extensive expertise in nonprofit organizational management
- one public member appointed by the governor, with advice and consent of the Senate.
- two nonvoting members: the hospital chief executive officer, or a designee, and an appointee of the commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs.
The bill would authorize a county hospital authority to enter into a public-private partnership agreement with a private entity to undertake certain types of projects to benefit a county hospital. This provision is similar to current law that allows a state college or county college to enter into a public-private partnership contract with a private entity.
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 24-11. It next heads to the Assembly for consideration.