Will Holzberg do for St. Mary what he did for UMDNJ?

Will Holzberg do for St. Mary what he did for UMDNJ?
Hoboken Reporter 07/16/2006

Dear Editor:   In his article about Harvey Holzberg last week, Tom Jennemann buried the news that the new head of St. Mary Hospital was deeply involved with the scandal-plagued University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ. Holzberg was a member of the board of trustees of UMDNJ from 1997 to 2003. In fact, then-Gov. Jim McGreevey appointed him chairman of the 11-member board in August 2002. He lost that job the following March when McGreevey pulled the plug because, as head of UMDNJ affiliate Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Holzberg had a conflict of interest.

Isn't it funny that, until last week, none of the stories about Holzberg mentioned that he was chairman of a $1.6 billion medical institution--the largest public-health facility in the country? He apparently has left it off his resume.

Why? Is it because UMDNJ is under federal investigation into at least $70 million in Medicare and Medicaid fraud going back at least a decade? Is it because this disgraced public-health behemoth has been a cesspool of no-bid contracts, sweetheart deals, outrageous personal spending charged to the taxpayers, and political influence peddling? U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie told the board in December that UMDNJ is "a public embarrassment," according to the Star Ledger. Currently, a former judge, appointed by Christie, is monitoring UMDNJ while Christie continues to investigate current and former trustees and employees. The details are available at UMDNJ.edu. I am not accusing Holzberg of any crime. But I would like to ask what Holzberg - as a trustee for at least six years, the chairman for eight months and the head of a major affiliate for 16 years - knew about the sickening amount of corruption now being ferreted out at UMDNJ. Did he try to combat it or did he just ignore it? Or did he miss it altogether? I laughed when I read Holzberg's promises that the hospital will not become a patronage mill. UMDNJ is now notorious as a warehouse of politically connected friends and relatives. It's obvious that there was no background check before filling this position. No one, it seems, bothered to run his name through a Google search.

When Holzberg took over at St. Mary earlier this month, Mayor Dave Roberts said, "Harvey's track record as a health-care leader is second to none." Mr. Mayor, do you really mean that? The best person for the job is a man who ran an institution that's now under a federal investigation?

May I suggest that the mayor, as well as State Sen. Bernard Kenny and Assemblyman Albio Sires - who rushed a bill through Trenton that would clear the way for Hoboken to take over this money-losing hospital - do their homework and try Googling before they saddle the taxpayers of Hoboken with someone who doesn't know corruption when it's stinking up the joint, or doesn't do anything about it.

Maureen Sullivan

Comments (2)

Said this on 12-20-2006 At 11:32 pm
How many New Jersey hospitals must be run into the ground before the real truth emerges?
Said this on 12-20-2006 At 11:35 pm
St Mary's sits on prime real estate- will it's eventual failure lead the way for Hudson County's "finest" to reap the rewards from development of this property? Any comment Dave Roberts and Harvey Holzberg?

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