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Weinberg, Sarlo & Gordon Introduce Bill to Reform Oversight of Bergen County Regional Medical Center

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senator Paul Sarlo and Senator Bob Gordon today introduced legislation to create a county hospital authority to oversee the Bergen County Regional Medical Center.

“Bergen County Regional Medical Center must be able to appropriately serve the needs of the community. With the current contract coming to a close, it is an important time to set up the proper board to oversee the facility that provides care to Bergen County residents, including some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Senator Weinberg. “This legislation is a responsible way to ensure the effective operation of the hospital well into the future.”

“We need to put in place the right framework that will ensure the hospital is operating in a way that meets the health care needs of residents in the region, and creating a county level authority is the best possible solution for doing that,” said Senator Sarlo. “This will allow for stronger and more direct oversight of the medical center, which is critical for the proper care of patients. The timing of this legislation is also significant, since we are nearing what is a pivotal time for the operation of the facility.”

“This bill creates a defined structure that will allow the county to provide appropriate oversight of the hospital and establish the transparency that is needed to ensure the safety of patients and employees,” said Senator Gordon. “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 allow us to prevent some of the very public and extremely concerning issues that have taken place at the facility going forward.”

“This legislation will provide enhanced oversight of county-owned hospitals.  It gives us the ability to compel all financial and operational records from private hospital managers and ensures that public stakeholders have the authority to act in the best interest of patients and workers,” said Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III.

The bill 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.