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April 8, 2011

Dear Mayor:

Re: Five years of creating healthier communities:  Have you joined the Mayors Wellness Campaign yet?

This June marks the Mayors Wellness Campaign’s fifth anniversary!  The Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC) supports mayors as champions of community health. By encouraging mayors to play a leadership role in supporting local opportunities for active, healthy lifestyles, the intent of the MWC is to reduce health care costs and foster active living and healthy lifestyles for all New Jersey citizens.  Currently, the majority of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities are participating in the campaign and working aggressively to increase the overall health of their communities.

If you have not already done so, please take the time to join the Mayors Wellness Campaign today.  It’s easy and doesn’t cost a thing.  Simply visit www.mayorswellnesscampaign.org and click on “Mayors, Sign the Mayors Wellness Campaign Pledge” on the home page. Fill in the form and you will receive information about the program and assistance from the MWC staff.

In addition, I would like to share with you that the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI) is involved in assisting the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services create transparent reports for the public in the Quality Improvement Advisory Committee (QIAC), where recently they were made aware of some alarming statistics related to outpatient surgery centers.
  
After submitting an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to the Department of Health, NJHCQI examined the survey results and conducted its own independent review of the data.

The surveys revealed concerns about the safety of Ambulatory Surgical Centers and Surgical Practices in our State along with the oversight of their operations.   In 2009 - 2010, New Jersey’s Department of Health examined 91 surgical centers and practices with the assistance of federal funding.  What they found was alarming:  49 of the 91 facilities did not meet standards to participate in Medicare, and more than 25% of the facilities were cited for “Immediate Jeopardy,” a violation which is defined as noncompliance with established rules that has caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury, harm, impairment or death to a patient.

It seems that there is a significant difference in adherence to safety standards between facilities that are licensed and inspected by the Department of Health and Senior Services and those that are unlicensed Surgical Practices. Unfortunately, consumers have no easy means of discerning the differences between the two types of practice.  NJHCQI strongly believes that there is not enough information to allow health care consumers to make safe and informed decisions regarding where they choose to have surgical procedures.
 
For these reasons, they decided to go public with this data. The data can be found on their homepage at www.njhcqi.org and was a feature story on the front page of the Star Ledger and the Trenton Times on Monday, April 4th.

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director
New Jersey State League of Municipalities

 

 

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