Newark mayor, unions raise alarm at what Rutgers merger may mean for University Hospital - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Newark mayor, unions raise alarm at what Rutgers merger may mean for University Hospital

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By Mary Ann Koruth

August 25, 2023

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and other critics of Rutgers University’s recent decision to merge its two medical school campuses are alarmed at what the move could mean for the future of Newark’s University Hospital, a critical lifeline to the area’s thousands of uninsured patients.

The Rutgers board of governors voted in July to merge the Newark and New Brunswick medical school campuses, despite calls for a clear plan and concerns that had been raised by doctors, nurses and Newark officials since 2020, when the proposal was first floated.

Critics of the move have asked whether clinical services, jobs and funding at the financially strapped University Hospital will be diverted to RWJBarnabas Health, a large private hospital system and Rutgers partner in New Brunswick. And they’ve questioned combining campuses that serve such different populations without first clearly laying out the fiscal and program impacts.

Some who work at University Hospital say Rutgers hasn’t served the hospital well since the university and the hospital were linked by law in 2012.

Service lines, physicians and residents were reassigned to health systems at Cooperman, Barnabas and Robert Wood Johnson and taken out of Newark, Catherine Mazzola, a pediatric neurosurgeon, told the Rutgers board when it approved the merger in July.

As a result, “the trust factor is broken with Rutgers,” said Debbie White, a nurse and president of the Healthcare Professionals and Allied Employees union, representing around 1,600 employees at the hospital.

“The hospital has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair,” White said. “Now we have a medical school merger. Rutgers is one of our employers. One thing I have seen is that they have told us one thing and done something else.”

Watch the discussion with UH President & CEO Jimenez and read more here.