“Blacks, and other people of color, have been contracting and dying from the respiratory disease at disproportionate rates—a consequence epidemiologists have traced to health inequities, including exposure to air pollution, and the structural racism undergirding housing and job patterns. Workers of color are overrepresented in service industries that have been deemed essential—industries without options for social distancing or remote work. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Black employees represented 12 percent of the total U.S. workforce in April but comprised 17 percent of frontline workers.”
Speaking about the three preemie infants who recently passed away at University Hospital in Newark, Mayor Ras J. Baraka shared these comments:
“The deaths of three premature infants with an Acinetobacter bacteria and the infection of a fourth, all cared for at University Hospital, are stark reminders that an overhaul of the quality of care and the leadership of the hospital is urgently needed. The infants had a variety of other medical conditions, but the fact remains that they contracted the bacteria in the hospital’s neonatal ICU. The Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness will work collaboratively with the New Jersey State Department of Health to continue careful monitoring of the situation in that unit.
“In July, Governor Murphy acted swiftly and decisively in appointing a monitor for University Hospital. Today, more action is needed. The hospital is central to providing health care to Newark residents, and I have been very concerned about its quality of care, its leadership’s failure to live up to the Newark Agreement negotiated when the hospital was created, their insensitivity to the opinions of residents, their attempt to reduce the number of pediatric beds without consulting myself or the Governor, and the failing grade they received on their level of care from the Leapfrog Group.
“The time has come for the State of New Jersey and the Newark community to collaborate in setting a new direction for University Hospital:
The hospital needs to become more responsive to the people it serves and sensitive to their needs. This requires more community input with new leadership, including a new board with adequate representation of Newark residents and a new President/CEO with a history of sensitivity to community.
State and federal investment is needed to enable University Hospital to become the first-class teaching hospital that it was intended to be, including an overhauled emergency room, a world-class trauma center, and more outpatient clinics to meet the underserved medical needs of the people of Newark.
“In 1968, the state and federal governments negotiated a detailed pact with the people of Newark to create a top-notch medical facility with community involvement and oversight in perpetuity. On the 50th anniversary of the Newark Agreement, it’s time to keep the promise.”