Phil Murphy to name building after Health Commissioner who sent COVID patients into nursing homes

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TRENTON, NJ – If New York Governor Andrew Cuomo can receive an Emmy Award, then it’s only reasonable that Judith Persichilli, the New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner who signed a death warrant to thousands of senior citizens can have a building named after her.

If you remember, it was Persichilli who signed the Department of Health order last March directing nursing homes and assisted living facilities to take in COVID-19 positive patients. That order led to a massive outbreak in the state’s senior healthcare facility system that led to approximately 8,000 deaths

“What we were encountering was that a resident would go to the hospital, be treated, recover and [the nursing home] would not accept the resident back,” Persichilli said last year. “Part of the directive is that this is that resident’s home. We keep forgetting that. They should be accepted back with the appropriate precautions.”

That order directed that long term care facilities could no longer deny patients re-entry into the facilities based solely on their COVID-19 status.

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On Friday, Governor Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin today announced that the new Department of Health building in Downtown Trenton will be named after Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, “In honor of her past and ongoing service to the people of New Jersey during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Each and every day throughout the pandemic, Judy has remained singularly engaged to save lives and protect public health,” said Governor Murphy“She has been the right leader for these times, and I could not be prouder to have asked Judy to serve as Commissioner two years ago. Now all those who pass through the halls of the ‘Judith M. Persichilli Building’ will be reminded of Judy’s selfless, honorable, and dedicated service to our state and its residents during the greatest public health crisis in New Jersey’s history.”

“This is a fitting tribute to the tireless efforts of Judy Persichilli to safeguard the health and safety of New Jerseyans in the past year,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “Thanks to her leadership as Commissioner of Health, our state was able to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and this was only the latest achievement in a long and impressive career in health care. I am proud to call Judy a friend, and I will be equally proud to see her name on this impressive new headquarters for the Department of Health.” 

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Commissioner Judy Persichilli began serving as Acting Commissioner of Health on August 5, 2019. She was confirmed by the State Senate on January 9, 2020.

Prior to leading the department, Commissioner Persichilli served as the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of University Hospital in Newark. Commissioner Persichilli was president emerita of CHE Trinity Health, the health ministry formed in May 2013 by the consolidation of Catholic Health East and Trinity Health of Livonia, MI. She previously served as the interim president and chief executive officer (CEO) of CHE Trinity Health. Prior to this appointment, Commissioner Persichilli was President and CEO of Catholic Health East.

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Commissioner Persichilli joined CHE in 2003 as the Executive Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic Division. She was promoted to Executive Vice President of acute care for the system in 2008 and then to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in December 2009 before assuming the role of CEO. Prior to joining CHE’s System Office, she served for eight years as CEO at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton.

Persichilli received her nursing diploma from the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing summa cum laude from Rutgers University, and a Master of Arts in Administration summa cum laude from Rider University. She also received an honorary Doctor of Health degree from Georgian Court University in 2009. In May 2011, Commissioner Persichilli received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT.