RUNNELLS Specialized Hospital of Union County
40 Watchung Way, Berkeley Heights NJ 07922

CONTACT: Margaret “Peggy” Salisbury (908) 771-5730

RUNNELLS Specialized Hospital of Union County Celebrates 100 Years of Quality Health Care: Freeholders Present Laudatory Resolution to Staff


The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently saluted RUNNELLS Specialized Hospital of Union County on the occasion of the facility’s 100th Anniversary. Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella (4th from right) presented the laudatory resolution on behalf of the Board to RUNNELLS’ Administrator Joan I. Wheeler, MSN, RN, LNHA (4th from left). Also pictured are administrative staff attending the presentation (L to R) Michael T. Drummond, Finance Director; Susan Palma, MS, RN, LNHA, Associate Administrator & Administrative Director of Nursing; Margaret ‘Peggy’ Salisbury, Marketing and Public Relations Director; Dr. Raymond Lanza, FACP, CMD, Medical Director; Anthony Scutari, Director of Hospital Maintenance; and Gregory Hardoby, Director of Personnel.


A Brief History of RUNNELLS

In 1910, New Jersey enacted a law authorizing county governments to establish hospitals for the care and treatment of tuberculosis patients. Union County was one of the first to respond, purchasing acreage in rural Berkeley Heights and establishing Bonnie Burn Sanatorium. The thinking of the day was that the location 350 feet above sea level would be perfect for treating people with lung trouble. Adding to the appeal of the site were the presence of natural springs and a very reasonable price of $100 per acre. On October 12, 1912 the American flag was raised in front of the original administration building.

By the 1950’s and 60’s, as treatment for tuberculosis improved, the facility evolved to better meet the needs of residents. General medical and surgical services were added and the name was changed to honor Dr. John E. Runnells, the first Superintendent.

By the early 1980’s, the sprawling campus was bisected by Route 78. There were more than 20 separate buildings which were inefficient and in need of significant repairs. It was decided to sell the southern half the acreage and build a new facility on the top ridge north of Route 78. The proceeds of the sale of the lower half of the property were used to help fund a replacement facility. Towards the end of 1991, the closing of the old site, construction of the new facility and transfer of all patients to the new, current RUNNELLS Specialized Hospital of Union County, had been accomplished.

Much has changed but one guiding mission remains: We are committed to the delivery of services in a caring and compassionate manner that promotes individual well being and the celebration of life.