Health Care Power 50: A – K (updated)

NJBIZ STAFF//March 28, 2022//

Health Care Power 50: A – K (updated)

NJBIZ STAFF//March 28, 2022//

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Jeffrey Alter

Alter took over as CEO of Summit Health in October 2021, after Jeffrey LeBenger stepped down to become executive chairman at the health care provider. He recently told NJBIZ that the company will continue to pursue the aggressive expansion strategy implemented by LeBenger, the centerpiece of which was the acquisition of the CityMD chain of urgent care centers. “We believe we have a real opportunity to change the way that health care is delivered, particularly in this marketplace and maybe in others. The CityMd location network is also a big part of that connected care model that we’re building,” Alter said in an interview. “I would say we’ve got a little bit of a tale of two cities. We’ve got exceptional multispecialty practices in New Jersey. We’re going to build some more CityMDs to support that connected care model in New Jersey, and as we look into New York, Long Island, the southern Connecticut market, we need to build that multi-specialty footprint.”

Cathleen Bennett

Since 2017, Bennett has served as CEO of New Jersey Hospital Association, the nonprofit trade group representing New Jersey’s hospitals, health systems and other health care providers. In the role, she oversees the Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey, a not-for-profit affiliate that promotes continuing education, patient safety, quality improvement and research; and the for-profit Healthcare Business Solutions, which provides group purchasing and other business solutions for health care providers. Bennett’s combined experience with health care providers and public health has been invaluable in leading the state’s provider community during the COVID-19 public health emergency. She has been a force in supporting NJHA’s membership in critical areas such as infection prevention and safety proto-cols, surge planning, ensuring the safe return of elective procedures and vaccination. Bennett was also in the spotlight as the state imposed vaccination requirements on health care workers. The NJHA attempted to balance public health with the financial challenges faced by its members. “We wholeheartedly support vaccination and booster shots as the best protection against COVID for health care workers and the people they care for,” Bennett said in February. “They’re also important for continuing to move us forward from this pandemic. However, we have asked the Governor for a 90-day extension of the Feb. 28 booster shot deadline,” she said. The requirements found the vacancy rate among registered nurses rose from 8.2% in 2020, to 13.4% in 2021. Hospitals said they spent $499 million in overtime in 2020 and $592 million in 2021, according to an NJHA survey. Temporary agency and travel staff costs were $222 million in 2020 and $670 million in 2021. Clearly, much work remains for Bennett and the organization she leads.

Dr. Diane Calello & Bruce Ruck

When concerned friends or family call the New Jersey Poison Control Center at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, someone will pick up — regardless of the day or hour, Under the leadership of Calello, the center’s executive medical director and managing director, and Ruck, its managing director, director of drug information services and professional education, the center continues to offer mission-critical advice and tracks trends with a combination of knowledge, technology and empathy. A former pediatric emergency physician who started with the center in 2007, Calello has been executive and medical director since 2016. “A statewide poison center has both local expertise as well as a birds’ eye view of trends and hazards in the state,” she said. “In addition, we feed our data into a national server, so we contribute to real-time national surveillance as well. So we are a just-right blend of local and central resources.” Ruck joined the center in 1998. He holds a PharmD and is also an adjunct professor at Rutgers, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and other educational institutions. “More young people — especially teenagers and pre-teens — are trying to harm themselves,” he warned. “In addition to COVID-related challenges, social media means there’s more pressure on them, and at the same time there is a lack of mental health services. We get calls from their parents, friends, and emergency room physicians and we recommend what to monitor and how to treat them.”

John Chiminski

A familiar presence on the NJBIZ “Power” lists, Chiminski — who was named Catalent CEO in 2009, following 20 years at GE Healthcare — led the Somerset-based con-tract manufacturing company through a successful IPO in 2014, and has steered it through a series of deals that delivered the scale necessary to meet steadily in-creasing outsourcing demands from large pharmaceutical companies. On July 1, Chiminski will start a new journey as executive chair of Catalent’s board, when current President and Chief Operating Officer Alessandro Maselli moves into the CEO spot. “I am grateful and humbled to have had the opportunity to lead Catalent over the past 12 years, and I’m pleased to congratulate Alessandro, an experienced leader who has been critical to Catalent’s success,” said Chiminski. “Alessandro knows every aspect of Catalent’s business and has been instrumental in developing and executing our strategy, including ensuring that Catalent was prepared to manufacture over 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses that we successfully delivered in record time during 2021. I am confident that Alessandro’s leadership will enable Catalent to continue its record of strong performance and growth.”

Joseph Chirichella

This year marks a big birthday for Deborah Heart and Lung Center – its 100th – and the hospital is embarking on a $108 million renovation to coincide with the milestone, dubbed DEBORAH100: The Project. February’s groundbreaking for the work marks the first major capital expansion at the Browns Mills Campus since the 1990s. At the head of the Center, and the work there, is President and CEO Chirichella, who’s has been with Deborah for more than 35 years and in the top leadership spots since 2010. He’s been a lynchpin in building relationships in the region, like the Capital Health Emergency Department at Deborah. And HeroCare Connect, in partnership with Cooper Health System, which provides medical services to active-duty military personnel and veterans (The Center’s neighbor is Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst). And at 100, Deborah is still earning high marks: In the most recent bi-annual, statewide cardiac surgery assessment from the New Jersey Department of Health, Deborah had the lowest risk of surgery mortality in New Jersey. In the report, the statewide mortality rate averaged 1.80%; Deborah’s own was much lower than that at 0.18%.

Robert Davis

Davis is chief executive officer and president of Merck, a position he stepped into in April 2021 after former CEO Kenneth Frazier took on the role of executive chair-man. Davis previously served as Merck’s president, responsible for the company’s operating divisions including Human Health, Animal Health, Manufacturing and Merck Research Laboratories. Merck, which has its U.S. headquarters in Kenilworth, is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the country and brought in approximately $48 billion in 2021, a 17% increase from the year before. Under Davis’s leadership, the company scored a perfect 100 on Human Rights Campaign’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index. It’s also moving along with the oral COVID-19 treatment it partnered with Ridgeback Therapeutics on, Molnupiravi. And moving along quickly: In February, 3.8 million courses were provided to the U.S. government for distribution nationwide just seven weeks, approximately, after the treatment gained Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, Davis said in a statement at the time.

Lawrence Downs

As CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey, Downs leads an organization that advocates for the rights of patients and physicians alike in a quest to deliver the highest quality medical care. He joined MSNJ in 1996, was named general counsel in 2006 and became CEO in 2012. His responsibilities include health policy initiatives, legislative and regulatory affairs, health care quality improvement, and public health matters. Downs’ notable accomplishments include positioning the organization for an evolving environment by changing its membership model from individual physicians to large groups, as the medical practice environment shifted and consolidated. He continued to adapt during the COVID pandemic, supporting front-line physicians by advocating for telemedicine/telehealth, securing and providing personal protective equipment and taking other steps to support physician members, such as an in-progress plan to connect all medical practices to MSNJ’s health information exchange platform, OneHealth New Jersey, that will help improve overall patient care and lower costs.

Joaquin Duato

Duato is CEO of Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest health care company and leads a global workforce of 135,000 employees in developing and delivering health care solutions in the pharmaceuticals, medical technology, and consumer health spaces. Duato may be new to the CEO role—he took over on Jan. 3, about six months after longtime CEO Alex Gorsky announced plans to shift into the executive chairman role—but he’s a veteran at J&J, most recently serving as vice chairman of the executive committee. In that role, he provided strategic direction for the pharmaceutical and consumer health sectors and oversaw information technology and the global supply chain. According to the company, Duato’s accomplishments include driving the transformation of the company’s pharmaceutical business into a global powerhouse by refocusing strategy and investment around core therapeutic areas and areas of greatest unmet need. He also played a large role in the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, coordinating global initiatives to safeguard employee health and ensure business and supply chain continuity. As the company’s eighth CEO, Duato has big shoes to fill. Most notably, Duato will lead the company through its split into two: Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health will spin off from the company, according to a November announcement. The split is expected near the end of 2023.

Amanda Eisel

Amanda Eisel replaced former CEO Andy Eckert as CEO of Zelis in August 2021. Eisel’s career at the intersection of health care and technology led her to Zelis in 2019 after time spent at Waystar, Applied Systems and Viewpoint. She’s been a member of the Zelis team since 2019, holding various leadership roles in the health care payment company at a time when medtech as a sector is growing. Shortly after Eisel took the reins, Zelis acquired Sapphire Digital, the leading health care platform for provider selection, patient access, price transparency, and digital consumer navigation.

Matthew Edson

Pet owners struggling to find care for their furry friends and veterinary offices seeking help to provide it can rejoice: Rowan University is establishing New Jersey’s first veterinary school, adding to just 33 such institutions in the country. Edson will be the founding dean. The school will offer a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree as well as additional degrees and training programs to shape the future of animal health care in the state. The school will be developed with $75 million in funding approved by the Legislature in November and located in Sewell on the campus of Rowan College of South Jersey-Gloucester. An inaugural class of 60 is projected to start in 2025, pending approval from the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education. Edson has taught several science classes as an adjunct professor and was a consultant to Rowan early on in its plans to establish the school, he’s more a businessman than an academic. The practice he started a decade or so ago is thriving, and for the past four years he’s been voted “Best Veterinarian” in Burlington County by readers of Burlington County Times. “Making sure these students are marketable is important to me … I have a real goal to make sure these students get an education and can enter practice,” he said.

Shereef Elnahal

Elnahal is on the move again. He left his job as state health commissioner a few months before the state was hit with a horrific public health crisis. So while his successor in the administration was left to grapple with the statewide response, Elnahal fought the pandemic in one the state’s worst-hit locales as the president and chief executive officer of University Hospital in Newark, the state’s only public hospital and its largest safety net hospital. Now, he’s likely headed to Washington: In March, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Elnahal as under secretary for health, Veterans Health Administration at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Elnahal previously served as assistant deputy under secretary for health for quality, safety, and value at Veterans Affairs from 2016 through 2018. He co-founded the VHA Innovation Ecosystem, a program that continues to foster the spread of innovation and best practices that improve veteran care across the nation, the White House said in the statement. During the pandemic, Elnahal set up one of the first COVID-19 vaccination sites in New Jersey, vaccinating the state’s first health care worker on Dec. 15, 2020. His community-based programming announcements include a partnership with a developer and the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Financing Authority to provide supportive housing to homeless patients; a hospital-based violence intervention program that has served as a national model; and a pro-gram that deploys trusted chaplains as community health workers, the White House stated.

John Fanburg

Fanburg’s client list is a who’s who of important entities in New Jersey’s medical world, including many of the state’s largest medical groups–the New Jersey Obstetrical & Gynecological Society, the New Jersey Association of Ambulatory Surgery Center, and New Jersey Orthopedic Society, to name a few. He has more than three decades of health and hospital law under his belt and has been an obvious choice for hospitals and physicians facing corporate, transactional, and regulatory issues. At Brach Eichler in Roseland, where he is managing member, he also chairs its health care law group and is co-chair of its cannabis practice, which since the start of the Murphy Administration has been a growing part of the state’s health care arena itself.

Jason Feldman

Feldman is the founder and CEO of Vault Health. Most New Jerseyans likely know that they can get a free COVID-19 at-home test. While the program is made possible by federal funds, the government is not actually distributing the tests, evaluating the samples and returning the results. Those tasks are being handled by Vault, a tele-health startup that once focused on testosterone therapy. After some early hiccups — including an outbreak at the company’s lab in Piscataway that required a shift of work to the Midwest, the program does seem to be working as advertised. New Jerseyans can call or go online to get a test, sign up for a Zoom call during which a Vault staff member walks them through the process, mail in a saliva sample and await the results. All at no cost. Not a bad deal. But there’s more to Vault than COVID testing. “We’re successfully growing our life sciences business working with biotech and biopharma,” Feldman told NJBIZ. “We’re not distracted by the fact that COVID continues to grow and continues to perform for us. It’s allowing us to build new software, new capabilities and expand into new markets. I’m very focused on international expansion at this point — we’re going to move into somewhere between 50 and 70 countries.”

Dr. Kennedy Ganti

Medical Society of New Jersey President Ganti joined the organization in 2010, shortly after launching his private practice, with the goal of helping to alleviate “the systemic challenges that patients have in getting high-quality, cost-effective health care.” As president since June 2021, Ganti wants the organization to help address “un-necessary insurance prior authorizations for medications and medical and surgical procedures,” which he noted “impede high quality care and add unnecessary cost and frustration to our patients.” Other efforts include “working with multidisciplinary stakeholders from the policy, technology and clinical spaces to drive improvement and reform in New Jersey.”

Warren Geller

Geller joined Englewood Health in 2009 and was appointed president and CEO in 2013. Under his leadership, the health system has seen major growth in patient volume and financial performance, as well as in quality and safety outcomes. Geller recognized that people are at the center of Englewood Health’s existence and its success, and that recruiting and retaining exceptional talent means maintaining a diverse and inclusive work environment. To ensure that, he was the first hospital leader in New Jersey to sign the CEO Action Pledge to support advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace and reducing health care disparities. He also worked with Englewood Health’s board of trustees to create a separate population health committee — made up of community leaders and volunteer trustees — dedicated to addressing health care disparities and increasing access to care. Geller also helped lead a strategic expansion of outpatient services and the health system’s integrated physician network, which now spans more than 500 providers in six counties. Under his direction, the health system continues to invest in communities across north-ern New Jersey, including major expansions into Fair Lawn, Englewood Cliffs, and Jersey City, detecting “where the greatest needs lie within communities and intervening with preventative health care measures whenever possible.”

Dr. Andre Goy

Named physician-in-chief of Hackensack Meridian Health Oncology Care Transformation Service in June 2020, Goy oversees cancer care across the health network. He has served as chairman and executive director of John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center since 2011 and as chair of oncology for Hackensack Meridian Health since 2016. Under his leadership, the John Theurer Cancer Center – which treats more than 35,000 cancer patients annually – became a member of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Consortium—one of only 16 research consortia in the nation approved by the National Cancer Institute. In 2021, JTC expanded its reach in Ocean County through a new affiliation with the Toms River Regional Cancer Center. And, the cancer center is now bringing more advanced care to the northern region of the state, as well, through HMH’s affiliation with St. Joseph’s Health. Goy is also a professor of medicine at Georgetown University and professor and chair of oncology at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine.

Debbie Hart

Hart leads BioNJ, New Jersey’s life sciences trade association with around 400 members. She founded it 1994 along with several industry leaders to promote a business and public policy environment in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and beyond that advances the growth and prosperity of New Jersey’s biotechnology companies. The industry has grown a lot since, and New Jersey retains its reputation as “the medicine chest” of the country. Since the onset of the pandemic, many BioNJ’s members have played integral roles in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic—Johnson & Johnson with its vaccine and Merck with its therapeutic, to name a couple.

Lori Herndon

As president and CEO, Herndon leads more than 6,000 staff, providers, and volunteers who serve five counties in South Jersey. Egg Harbor Township-based AtlantiCare includes AtlantiCare Regional Health Services including AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center with three locations, ambulatory services and AtlantiCare Physician Group; the AtlantiCare Foundation; and AtlantiCare Health Solutions, an accountable care organization. Herndon’s role within the state elevated in January with her appointment to chair of the New Jersey Hospital Association, the trade group offering support and services to the state’s hospitals and other health care providers. Her respected guidance of the health care industry comes from boots-on-the-ground experience as an ICU nurse, a role she held before step-ping into hospital administration at AtlantiCare and then rising through the ranks. Under her leadership at AtlantiCare, ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet designated hospital and has been redesignated three times.

Leslie Hirsch

Hirsch has spent the past 40 years in health care. He’s been president and CEO of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System in New Brunswick, one of the few remaining Catholic hospitals in the state, since 2015; and before that, he spent seven years as president and CEO of Saint Clare’s Health System in Denville. Saint Peter’s – a 478-bed acute care teaching hospital and children’s hospital, and a major institution in the city of New Brunswick – is in the midst of a merger with RWJBarnabas Health. The pair announced the deal in September 2020, intending for Saint Peter’s to retain its identity as a Catholic health care institution. Meanwhile, new offerings are afoot at Saint Peter’s including its recent New Jersey Department of Health approval to perform elective angioplasties. In December, it became one of the first community hospitals to receive permission to perform non-emergency procedures on patients showing signs of blocked coronary arteries.

Gary Horan

Horan has served as president and chief executive officer of Trinitas Regional Medical Center since 2001. Now he holds those positions as a part of RWJBarnabas Health, after the two finalized a partnership in January that will allow Trinitas to retain its identity as a Catholic health care institution. The move expands the capabilities of both to continue to expand outreach to underserved communities and bodes well for their academic endeavors (the Trinitas School of Nursing is a regional leader for training nurses and offers a cooperative education program with Union County College). As part of the agreement, which leaves even fewer independent hospitals in the state, the 554-bed acute-care hospital also expects some upgrades thanks to the size of its new system, particularly at its outpatient facilities. Horan has been a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce board member since 2006; he is also a member of the board for New Jersey Hospital Association.

Dianna Houenou & Jeff Brown

Cannabis Regulatory Commission Chair Dianna Houenou and Executive Director Jeff Brown, along with the other four members of the CRC, are the regulators at the top of the state’s legal cannabis industry, which when it opens is poised to be one of the nation’s biggest—especially if the market opens before New York’s. Brown was previously head of the medical cannabis program within the Department of Health and Houenou spent three years championing the end of cannabis prohibition as the head of the ACLU-NJ. Together, they lead the charge to make New Jersey’s adult use market equitable and sustainable. Although the state missed its February deadline to begin adult use sales, the CRC began accepting applications for adult use licenses in December; and as of March 15 applications for all parts of the industry are being accepted on a rolling basis. Brown told NJBIZ in late February: “We have accomplished a lot in the 10 months since the CRC was established: wrote the industry rules, set up a new application platform, and begun accepting applications, even as we are staffing the agency. We are as eager as everyone else to see dispensaries open for business – and they will be soon. We are also committed to ensuring that the market opens responsibly, with the broadest accessibility possible, and without sacrificing patient supply.”

Thomas Kendris

As US Country President of Novartis Corp., Kendris oversaw the launch of a transformative program — Choice with Responsibility — that’s exploring new working models and giving employees greater flexibility in how they work while maintaining a focus on productivity and innovation. He’s also helping the global health care company to become a focused medicines company, building depth in five core therapeutic areas: cardio-renal, immunology, neuroscience, oncology and hematology; while increasing its strength across key technology platforms that include cell therapy, gene therapy, small-interfering RNA therapy and radioligand therapy. Under his leadership, Novartis took a major step forward in addressing the root causes of disparities in health and education by launching Beacon of Hope, an innovative 10-year collaboration involving 27 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other organizations. A $33.7 million contribution – through the company and the Novartis US Foundation – will fund scholarships and other educational programs to enable the next generation of Black and African American leaders, and create clinical trial centers of excellence at Historically Black Medical Schools to increase diversity among principal investigators and trial managers, improve the quality and inclusivity of clinical trials, and contribute to improved health outcomes for communities of color. Novartis also hired a dedicated D&I talent acquisition team to help identify and attract diverse talent.

Scott Kobler

Kobler has been an integral player in New Jersey’s health care M&A and financing world for nearly four decades. Much of New Jersey’s health care deal-making activity and the development of hospitals and other health care facilities goes through Kobler. A longtime partner at McCarter & English in Newark, he focuses on mergers and acquisitions and capital financings, representing lenders and acute, subacute, and specialized lay and faith-based providers. Kobler is a veteran of health care power lists and is an NJBIZ ICON Awards alum, thanks to the importance of his work in the state’s business community.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:00 p.m. EST on March 28, 2022, to update Thomas Kendris’ title to US country president for Novartis Corp.