Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The UMDNJ Mess: A Comment from the Front Lines

We have reported frequently about multiple kinds of misconduct by top leadership at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). In our most recent post we noted how little had been heard from the long-suffering professionals and academics who have been laboring to fulfill UMDNJ's mission despite the turmoil at the top. In response, we got this comment from one such person on the front-lines, who will remain anonymous:

As a member of 'this long-suffering group,' I think you make a good point about talking to us. We've had a couple of town meetings with the governor, but that was before the latest round of scandals and very little about reorganization was discussed.

No one is talking about shutting down the parts of UMDNJ, just the superstructure. The best analogy I can think of is the Soviet Union. The component countries all still exist, they just don't have to worry about the Politburo anymore.

I doubt if you could find one faculty member at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School who disagrees that UMDNJ should be restructured, and that restructuring should include emancipation of RWJMS from UMDNJ. If they shut down UMDNJ central administration completely, that would have the added benefit of saving money and electricity and relieving traffic congestion and parking around University Hospital in Newark.

We have often suggested that health care organizations require and deserve more representative, transparent, accountable and ethical governance.

In particular, despite being staffed by hundreds of well-trained and accomplished faculty members, it is remarkable how often the governance of medical schools and academic medical centers is top-down, and often in the hands of people with little experience or background in health care. This appears to have been true in the case of UMDNJ.

One wonders if CEOs would stop being "imperial," and would start listening to the talented people who work for them on the front lines, how many problems they would avoid, and how much better their organizations would become at fulfilling their missions?


Anonymous said...

Exec says he faced retaliation at UMDNJ


Michael Nappe, a billing manager at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, says he ran afoul of his bosses when he began objecting to a bizarre accounting system designed to hide the cost of telecommunication contracts that had never been competitively bid as required by law.

To conceal the exorbitant contracts, the department was sending fake invoices that billed other university departments for millions of dollars of communications costs that they had, in fact, never incurred, Nappe says in a lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Middlesex County.

Nappe said he reported the billing issues to superiors and the university's compliance officer as early as 2003, but was told, "if we follow all the rules and regulations, we will bring the university to a screeching halt."

Anonymous said...

Agree on that...

CEOs become only competent leader when they are good listeners...

Anonymous said...

Don't miss this one!