Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen Shame

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen Shame

Article excerpt

SHAME. SHAME on the for-profit contractor operating Bergen Regional Medical Center. Shame on the Bergen County Improvement Authority, which has oversight of the hospital. Shame on county officials who talk about the future of Bergen Regional while ignoring the nightmare of the present.

As reported Sunday by Staff Writer Mary Jo Layton, the sprawling county-owned hospital -- the largest in the state, with 1,000 beds - - is supposed to be a health center of last resort for the poor, the mentally ill and the elderly. It is that and much more. It is also a place where police were so often being called to respond to allegations of assault that at one time, a county police chief explored putting a substation on the hospital campus.

In 2012, there were 88 allegations of assault. In 2013: 156. In 2014: 209. And in 2015: 290.

This is outrageous.

While for years county officials have bickered over whether it should renew its contract with Bergen Regional Medical Center LP or sell the hospital, there has been little concern over the continued allegations of assault at the hospital. County officials of both political parties have blamed the contractor for all that is wrong. There is blame enough to share.

Hospital officials claim their internal data show a decline in assaults, but neither they nor the county Sheriff's Office -- which replaced the county police at Bergen Regional -- would provide The Record with any numbers backing up that claim.

County officials -- the BCIA, freeholders and the county executive -- should have been demanding answers for years. They are to blame for the lack of oversight at Bergen Regional.

Bergen County Executive James Tedesco appointed an advisory committee to study the future of the hospital. It released its findings this month and did not mention any reports of violence at the hospital. How is that even possible? …

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