More Indictments at UMDNJ

The pain at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) just goes on and on. We have previously discussed, seemingly ad infinitum, the troubles there. The university now is operating under a federal deferred prosecution agreement with the supervision of a federal monitor (see most recent posts here, here, here, here and here.) We had previously discussed allegations that UMDNJ had offered no-bid contracts, at times requiring no work, to the politically connected; had paid for lobbyists and made political contributions, even though UMDNJ is a state institution; and seemed to be run by political bosses rather than health care professionals. (See posts here, and here, with links to previous posts.) A recent development (see post here with links to previous posts) was that UMDNJ apparently gave paid part-time faculty positions to some community cardiologists in exchange for their referrals to the University’s cardiac surgery program, but not in exchange for any major academic responsibilities. Another was some amazingly wasteful decisions by UMDNJ managers leading to spending millions of dollars for real-estate that now stands vacant (see post here).

This just in, via Bloomberg News,

New Jersey Senator Wayne Bryant, once one of the state’s most powerful Democrats, was indicted today on corruption charges and accused of trading his political influence for a job at the state’s medical university.

Bryant, 59, was charged in a 20-count indictment of engaging in a ‘scheme and artifice to defraud the public of honest services.’

Bryant … was accused by a federal monitor of directing millions of dollars to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey after receiving a ‘no-work’ job there. R. Michael Gallagher, former dean at the medical university’s school of osteopathic medicine, was also charged today in the indictment.

According to the indictment, Gallagher in 2003 gave Bryant the title of program support coordinator at the osteopathic school at a starting pay of $35,000 a year. The job helped Bryant accrue credit toward his state pension.

Bryant, according to the indictment, used his senate staff to arrange meetings for Gallagher with members of the Senate budget committee, at which Gallagher presented a ‘white paper’ regarding capital projects at the osteopathic school that needed funding. From 2003 to 2006, Bryant directed changes in the state budget to benefit the medical school, including an allocation of $2.325 million for the osteopathic school, the indictment said.

UMDNJ has become one of the most graphic examples of mismanagement of an academic medical institution. The case is also one of the most striking examples of the “anechoic effect.” I have never found any reference to the troubles at UMDNJ in any article in a scholarly medical or health care, policy, or services research journal.

Failure to even talk about cases of bad or corrupt managment of health care institutions leaves us far from a solution to the problem.