HACKENSACK, N.J.– Bergen County Executive James Tedesco on Tuesday vowed to keep a modified Bergen Regional Medical Center open, pursue innovative ways to deal with the heroin epidemic and fight for more state funding.
“As long as I’m executive, we will continue to offer the best services possible for the [neediest],” Tedesco said during his "State of the County" in Hackensack.
BRMC will remain open but with modifications, he said -- including a veterans component and the improvement of worker and patient safety.
“We will have a medical center for the people, by the people, and we will ensure that those people that need those services get what they deserve,” Tedesco said. "We should be doing everything we can for them, not just the bare minimum.
"We can’t even meet the bare minimum in most cases.”
The county executive also pledged to pursue various ways to deal with heroin's grip.
“Statistics show that the heroin death rate in New Jersey per 100,000 citizens is three times the national average,” he said. “We as a community need to win this battle. We won’t make a difference without putting a focus on it… attack from all fronts.”
Of New Jersey's 21 counties, Bergen sends the most tax dollars to the state, Tedesco emphasized.
“We continue to fund and get little back,” he said. “Something has to change with that formula.”
Republican Freeholder Maura DeNicola agreed.
“The real core of our mission and goal has to be to make certain that those we represent get their fair share from Trenton,” she told Daily Voice.
Other initiatives cited in Tedesco's address includes funding the Bergen Light Rail system; creating internships for students on the autism spectrum; improving infrastructure; partnering with Hudson and Passaic counties; controlling rising health care costs and improving public safety.
The county has already saved over $3 million in law enforcement costs following the absorption of what was the Bergen County Police Department into the county sheriff's office, Tedesco said.
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