Friday, November 25, 2005

More Trouble at UMDNJ

There are new developments in the continuing, sorry story of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). This year, there have been allegations that UMDNJ had offered no-bid contracts, at times requiring no work, to the politically connected; had paid for lobbyists and made political contributions, even though UMDNJ is a state institution; and seemed to be run by political bosses rather than health care professionals. (See previous post.) Then, there were reports of a series of mysterious burglaries at the central administrative offices of the university, in which nothing of monetary value was taken, but various records were rifled, at a time when these offices had been notified of a US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) subpeona of their records. (See previous post.) And then there were reports that five members of the University's Board of Trustees had potential conflicts of interest. (See post here.)
The latest developments are:
  • The current acting Governor of the state just issued an executive order requiring top officials of all New Jersey state colleges and universities to list their employment history and financial ties to other organizations, and to resign if they continue to be "employed, [are] receiving compensation from, or own or control more than one percent of profits or assets of a firm, association or partnership doing business with the college or university." (See the article in Newsday.) This standard is tougher than many commonly in place at state and private universities, which commonly only require leaders with conflicts to recuse themselves from decisions involving the entities involved in such conflicts.
  • Meanwhile, the FBI raided the UMDNJ administrative offices, and wound up "taking computer hard drives belonging to at least a half-dozen top administrators, including the current and former presidents...." "Terminals belonging to UMDNJ President John Petillo, former president Stuart Cook, and vice president for legal management Vivian Sanks-King were among those searched...." "Investigators also seized information from computers used by University Hospital administrators, including James Lawler, the hospital's chief financial officer." "The raid was the fourth time UMDNJ has been subpoenased by federal investigators in recent months." (See the article in the Newark Star-Ledger.)
The problems at UMDNJ have received considerable attention in the local media, but not in the national media, nor in medical and health care publications. Yet, when the case of UMDNJ is added to the numerous other cases that have appeared on Health Care Renewal, the problem is revealed to be not local to the state of New Jersey, but national, and probably global.
Clearly, health care leaders who may be thinking more of their personal business and political interests than the mission of their health care institution are unlikely to be effective in pursuing that mission. Once again, until we ensure that health care organizations' governance is representative, accountable, transparent, and ethical, we will not get accessible, fairly priced, high-quality health care.
And such a revolution in health care will only be achieved by grass-roots action, by physicians and other health care professionals, and ultimately by the public. Bad leaders will not reform themselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think UMDNJ in Newark N.J. can greatly benefit at a time of extreme economic crisis would be by cutting certain departments down such as the animal labortory,.I heard from an employee there that a white lab rat can cost about $500.00 per rat in the financail situtation that the hospital is currently facing that is only jeopardizing the facilitly even greater!