University Hospital’s problems festered because of leadership void — and now the CEO’s job is vacant

Taken from

December 10, 2018

By  Susan K. Livio 

The veteran hospital executive who just finished studying the management and economic problems at University Hospital in Newark for the past four months is the Murphy administration’s pick to become its temporary CEO.

But the hospital’s Board of Directors Monday declined to vote on Judith Persichilli’s interim appointment, and the outgoing CEO has departed earlier than expected, state Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal told NJ Advance Media Monday evening.

“That is his prerogative,” Elnahal said of John Kastanis, who announced his Dec. 14 resignation last week, amid pressure from Gov. Phil Murphy’s and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka’s administrations.

“I’m extremely concerned the board did not appoint (an interim CEO) today,” Elnahal said. “The report identifies the importance of leadership and accountability.”

As a public hospital heavily reliant on state funding, the governor and state Legislature wield authority over University, but it is up to the board to approve a temporary CEO and ultimately a permanent replacement.

Phone calls to Tanya Freeman, chairwoman of the hospital board, went unreturned. In a statement released Monday night, Freeman said the board would reconvene Thursday to name a short-term replacement.

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