Murphy nominates first nurse as incoming NJ health commissioner

David Madden
June 25, 2019 - 5:10 pm
New Jersey health commissioner

NJ Governor's Office via Flickr


EWING, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey needs a new health commissioner, and Gov. Phil Murphy intends to pull off a job swap of sorts. 

Shereef Elnahal, the current health commissioner, is leaving to take on the role of CEO at University Hospital, a state-owned facility in Newark, next month. 

The governor’s pick to replace him, Judy Persichelli, knows that place all too well — she's been the interim chief executive of University Hospital.

"For the past 11 months, Judy has been out point person at University Hospital, working to turn that institution around financially and administratively and to restore its reputation as a place that residents could trust for comprehensive health care," Murphy said during a press conference Tuesday.

Persichelli will be the first state health commissioner who started her career as a nurse, and who also has prior administrative experience, leading as the CEO of St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton and Catholic Health East.

"By any measure, her work has been a success," Murphy said, "and University Hospital is now on the road to recovery. As a nurse, as an administrator, and as someone who has been intimately involved in health care policy at nearly every level, Judy brings a long and distinguished career of insight and practical experience to one of our state's most critical jobs."

"I have seen firsthand the impact that social determinants have on health," she added, "when your ZIP code determines your destiny more than your genetic code."

Persichelli will serve as the health commissioner on an interim basis once Elnahal departs the administration, pending a state Senate confirmation.