Health Care Power 50: L-Z

NJBIZ STAFF//March 29, 2021

Health Care Power 50: L-Z

NJBIZ STAFF//March 29, 2021

Jeffrey Le Benger

Le Benger, chief executive officer of the rapidly expanding and newly rebranded Summit Health, one of the nation’s premier physician-governed multispecialty medical groups. The first integrated delivery-of-care network of its kind, the combined organization has more than 1,600 providers, 6,400 employees and 200 locations in New Jersey and New York. Summit Health handles more than 4.6 million patient visits annually, with a vision to provide patients an exceptional, seamless experience across a full spectrum of high-quality primary, specialty, and urgent care. And he’s no slowing down. “We are going to create a health care delivery model in the New York metropolitan area that is nowhere else in the country,” LeBenger said in an interview last year. “We take care of almost 800,000 unique patients a year, we run between the entire company 6 million visits a year. We expect to put on major hubs in the New York metropolitan area. Long Island, as well as Westchester County. We’re going to continue to grow.” In March, Le Benger told NBJIZ that Summit is also trying to help the state expand its COVID-19 vaccination program with a footprint capable of delivering 2,000 shots a day.

Steven Libutti

Libutti is the director of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and vice chancellor for Cancer Programs at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, positions he took four years ago.
The institute is building a new cancer pavilion in New Brunswick that will become a one stop shop for cancer patients, bringing laboratory services, an outpatient clinic, infusion/chemotherapy suite, radiation oncology, imaging, and interna-tional radiology all under one roof. The Cancer Institute received an anonymous $25 million donation in December to sup-port its Cancer Immunology and Metabolism Center of Excellence in faculty recruitment, shared resource development, and cancer research to help scientists better understand the human immune response to cancer and ultimately make ex-isting therapies more effective.

Amy Mansue

Mansue took over as Inspira Health’s CEO in September, succeeding longtime chief John DiAngelo. Mansue was previously RWJBarnabas’ chief experience officer for four years, and before that had held various positions within the health care and health insurance industries in New Jersey and New York for nearly three decades. Mansue’s biweekly video updates on Inspira’s Facebook page feel like intimate updates from a friend, one who tells you to get your vaccine and get a mammogram. And one who shares touching and compelling stories, like of hospital volunteer Tommy Messner, who colleagues crowdfunded a bike for so he could arrive to his volunteer shifts comfortably and in style, and Dr. William King, believed to be the first Black doctors to join the medical staff at Underwood-Memorial (now Inspira Health Center) in Woodbury in 1968.

Paul Marden

Paul Marden is chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare, New Jersey, owning the P&L for all commercial products with a focus on sustainable growth in the New Jersey market. He oversees UnitedHeatlhcare’s reputation in the community, as well as his team’s relationships with customers, brokers, regulatory and legislative bodies. He serves as a board member for the NJ Chamber of Commerce, the Commerce & Industry Association of New Jersey as well as Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark. Marden is a regular speaker on health care, business leadership and health insurance.

Michael Maron

As the CEO of Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, Maron bore the full brunt of the pandemic’s early, most frightening days. The hospital was at the center of the first serious outbreak in the state, and it seemed then as though the health care system could be overwhelmed. That perception only deepened when Maron himself contracted COVID-19. He re-covered and Holy Name mustered a strong response to the virus. “I couldn’t be prouder of the staff, the commitment, the innovation that occurred here,” Maron said in a late summer interview with NJBIZ. “What no other organization in New Jersey did, or actually anywhere quite frankly, is we added 100 critical care beds in 14 days. That is an unprecedented feat,” he told NBIZ editor Jeff Kanige. “And these weren’t just regular beds. This wasn’t taking existing space and con-verting it, taking a regular med surge bed and converting it to critical care. This was going into our large auditorium and building from scratch.” And Maron apparently deserves a good deal of the credit for that response. “Both Maron and the hospital got through it and came out better and stronger with an enhanced effort for managing through a crisis,” said one person familiar with the efforts.

Anthony Mazzarelli & Kevin O’Dowd

Mazzarelli and O’Dowd are the co-leaders of Cooper University Health Care in Camden. After serving as chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie, O’Dowd took over as co-president/CEO of Cooper University Health Care in 2018. Under his leadership, the Camden medical center has shown increases in patients and revenues. And that role became even more critical with the onset of the pandemic. His reputation for competence put him at the center of the response in his part of the state. “Phil Murphy leans heavily on O’Dowd as the COVID operations guy in Southern New Jersey,” one insider said. “And that takes [courage] for Murphy because he worked for the predecessor administration. That speaks volumes about what Murphy thinks about Kevin O’Dowd.” Mazzarelli is also the Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs for Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. Previously, Mazzarelli served as Cooper’s chief physician executive where he oversaw the physician practice, as well as quality/patient safety, and continuous process improvement efforts for the health system, the same topics for which he teaches within the medical school and residency programs. Together O’Dowd and Mazzarelli were instrumental in educating their community about the effectiveness and safety of the availa-ble COVID-19 vaccines. “Our team of doctors and educators will be scheduling sessions with a wide range of community groups and organizations to provide information Camden residents can trust to make informed decisions, which will hopefully encourage more residents to be vaccinated,” Mazzarelli said.

Scott McBride

With a specialty in white collar criminal defense and a reputation as an expert in health care fraud, McBride represents pharmaceutical and medical device companies in internal investigations, Department of Justice investigations and legal disputes in New Jersey and elsewhere. He’s a sought-after speaker and panelist on health care fraud and an alum of the United State’s Attorney’s Office, where he spent more than a decade with time served as deputy chief of the economic crimes unit and as a member of the health care and government fraud unit.

Audrey Meyers

Meyers joined Valley Hospital in 1980 and was named president and CEO in 1999 and assumed that role for Valley Health System in 2003. She is one of the longest-serving CEOs in the state. In addition to breaking ground on a new hospital campus in Paramus to be completed by 2023, in 2019 Meyers also oversaw the opening of Women’s & Children’s Primary Care Center in Montvale; the launch of a new service, Dispatch Health, which brings urgent care to a patient’s home and the opening of a new Wellness and Walk-In Care Center in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus. Her career accomplishments include strategic affiliations with the Mount Sinai Health System and the Cleveland Clinic.

Tammy Murphy

Even before the pandemic, Murphy did not shrink from her role as New Jersey’s First Lady. She has used her public stature to focus on issues of women’s and maternal health, infant mortality affecting communities of color, environmental justice and climate change. But COVID-19 raised even more dangerous challenges. Murphy responded, in part, by helping to create and promote the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, bringing together prominent New Jerseyans and an effort to provide financial support for struggling communities. And those challenges are persisting beyond what she expected. “It’s obvious that this pandemic and the implications for the economy and more are going to be with us for a long time,” Murphy told NJBIZ last summer. “And while we had originally anticipated that the fund would wrap up by Christmas time or thereabouts it’s pretty clear now that we will carry on as long as we have the resources to do so and there’s a need for us. Which means we definitely need our corporate partners to step up very much so over the coming months.” Murphy has her work cut out for her. The pandemic in recent months has laid bare the difficulty that lower-income, typically minority-communities have in getting the COVID-19 vaccine vital to restoring pre-pandemic life. And many African Americans and Hispanics are outright hesitant to get the vaccine, backed by generations of government health officials disregarding their interests.

Dean Paranicas

As president and chief executive officer of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, Paranicas oversees the trade association for the leading research-based biopharmaceutical and medical technology companies in New Jersey. HINJ works to ensure life sciences companies have a supportive innovation ecosystem to discover and develop new cures and treatments, patients have access to the medicines they need, and that New Jersey remains a global life sciences hub with all of the attendant economic and quality of life benefits. Along with BioNJ chief Debbie Hart, Paranicas leads an organization of companies critical to the nation’s pandemic response. “Both the biopharma companies and the medical technology companies, they’re on the ground, they’ve been at this hard,” Paranicas told NJBIZ during the height of the outbreak. “They’ve been at this from the beginning. They never close. They kept on working through, developing diagnostic tests and working on therapies and, of course, working on a vaccine.”

Donald Parker

Parker is president and chief hospital executive of Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic and president of Hackensack Meridian Health Behavioral Health Care Transformation Services/Integrative Medicine. When the Carrier Clinic, the largest nonprofit behavioral health system in New Jersey, merged with Hackensack Meridian, Parker said the deal would “create exceptional, comprehensive care at a time of great need for expanded, enhanced, and innovative behavioral health services.” HMH has since launched the country’s first-ever medically integrated urgent care center with behavioral health services. And they’re in the process of opening up an inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment center in Mahwah.

Tom Polen

Franklin Lakes-based BD, one of the largest global medical technology companies in the world, works to advance the quality of health care by improving medical discovery, diagnostics and the safe delivery of care. Led by Polen as president and  CEO, BD is now one of the many New Jersey companies leading the global efforts to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Polen met early on in the pandemic with President Donald Trump, administration officials and other business leaders who have been involved in the effort to expand access to COVID-19 testing and test development, stating the company’s support of the U.S. effort to combat coronavirus. “[W]e are working around the clock internally and with external partners to increase the coronavirus diagnostic capacity in the U.S by ramping up production of our sample collection tools and increasing access to our automated molecular platform for in vitro diagnostics,” Polen said at the time. BD recently received $24 million from the federal government to scale up U.S. manufacturing production of its COVID-19 rapid diagnosis testing kits. In November BD received an order from the Dutch Ministry of Health for 9.2 million of its rapid COVID-19 tests for use on the BD Veritor Plus System, and recently announced plans to invest approximately $1.2 billion over a four-year period to expand and upgrade manufacturing capacity and technology for pre-fillable syringes and advanced drug delivery systems across its six global manufacturing locations and add a new manufacturing facility in Europe.

Wardell Sanders

As president of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans for 15 years, Sanders is an expert on health care policy. Before leading the NJAHP, he worked in Trenton directing the two agencies regulating the individual and small group health benefits markets, the New Jersey Individual Health Coverage Program Board and the New Jersey Small Employer Health Benefits Program Board. All in, the two agencies cover a million New Jerseyans. In March, Gov. Murphy named Sanders was named to the Health Care Affordability Advisory Group, which will advise the Health Care Affordability Interagency Workgroup chaired by Shabnam Salih on the development and implementation of health care cost growth benchmarks.

Kevin Slavin

Slavin serves as president and chief executive officer at St. Joseph’s Health, an integrated multi-hospital major academic healthcare system based in Paterson. He is responsible for the overall strategic, clinical, academic and operational functions of St. Joseph’s Health, which encompasses St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Wayne Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Visiting Health Services of NJ and numerous ambulatory and physician sites throughout northern North Jersey. Under Slavin’s guidance, St. Joseph’s University Medical Center was the first in the United States to launch an Alternatives to Opioids Program (ALTO), a successful and unique approach to acute pain management without the use of opioids. The Alternatives to Opioids in Emergency Departments Act — which is based on the St. Joseph’s program — was signed into law in October 2018, expanding its use to hospitals across the nation. Slavin was the 2020 Chairman of the New Jersey Hospital Association Board of Trustees, a Member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Trustee and Past Chairman of the Hospital Alliance of New Jersey, inaugural Chair of the Healthcare Coalition of Passaic County and has held a variety of legislative appointments to healthcare boards, commissions and task forces.

Gary St. Hilaire

St. Hilaire is the CEO at Horizon BCBSNJ, the largest health insurer in the state, following the retirement of his predecessor Kevin Conlin. Over the past year, Horizon launched a $5.5 million lobbying and public relations blitz to successfully push through legislation allowing the company to overhaul its corporate structure and invest in its for-profit subsidiaries. The health insurer contends the move was vital for Horizon to implement upgrades and diversify its business operations. A major employer in the state with $13 billion in annual revenues, Horizon insures or administers health coverage for 3.5 million New Jerseyans and holds major contractors for many state workers. In September, Horizon announced along with RWJBarnabas Health and Hackensack Meridian Health that the partners were forming a new Medicare Advantage plan called Braven Health, which will serve residents in eight of the state’s 21 counties. BeforeHorizon, St. Hilaire spent years as president of CEO at capital Blue Cross, a health insurance company based in the Pennsylvania state capital; an executive at Blue cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; and co-founder and the chief financial officer for a health care technology company.

Marco Taglietti

Three in four women will get a vaginal yeast infection in their life, so why haven’t pharma companies focused on addressing it? Taglietti is the CEO of Scynexis, the Jersey City company developing Ibrexafungerp which, if approved, will be the first new pill to treat the malady in decades. Interim analyses of the medication, which will also come in IV form, has also shown positive results as a treatment for candida auris—which unlike vaginal yeast infections, which are just pesky and uncomfortable—is deadly and classified by the CDC as a public health threat. Ibrexafungerp is the first investigational antifungal agent with reported clinical data in patients in hospital settings with C. auris infections: out of 74 patients, 64 saw clinical benefits from Ibrexafungerp and 46 patients saw a complete or partial response. In 18 others, the disease stabilized.

Christina Tan

Like Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, Tan is a frequent figure at the Gov. Phil Murphy’s regular briefings on how the state is handling the pandemic. It’s the data presented by Tan and her colleague Dr. Ed Lifshitz, a communicable disease expert in the department, that determines what reopenings or business closures are justified. At the moment, New Jersey and many parts of the nation are in the midst of an onslaught of new variants, particularly one from the U.K., driving new cases. Public health officials across the nation are racing to vaccinate as many people as possible in order to create a brick wall that would keep the virus from once again spreading, commonly referred to as herd immunity. Figures like Tan and Lifshitz will have the numbers and figures to gauge whether that’s working, and if the state many need to adjust course.

Michael Tardugno

Tardugno relocated biopharma company Celsion Corp. to Lawrenceville from Maryland a decade ago. At the time, he was looking to develop and commercialize life-saving chemotherapy and immunotherapy agents and needed to recruit top talent. Two years ago, Celsion—where Tardugno serves as president and CEO — received $10.6 million via the State’s Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Department of Treasury’s Division of Taxation. The company is developing products targeting advanced ovarian cancer and earlier this applied for a provisional U.S. patent for a novel DNA-based, investigational vaccine aimed at preventing or treating infections including COVID-19 using its Placcine DNA technology platform.

Deborah Visconi

As head of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, Visconi oversees one of the nation’s largest public hospitals. New Bridge has spent years under state scrutiny, following reports by government agencies and media outlets about potential safety lapses. Visconi took the helm in 2017, when the beleaguered hospital was moving away from a for-profit management company and its prior title of Bergen Regional Medical Center. Since then, she’s dramatically ramped up New Bridge’s opioid, mental health and substance abuse treatment services, and veteran’s health care. The hospital has gotten nods for the quality of treatment to its LGBT patients. And the hospital has forged partnerships with other key health care players across the state, such as the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and the NJ Reentry Corporation. “Coming from an underprivileged family, for me, it has always been seeing how we grew up and the lack of access, gaps in care, that we experienced as a family,” she said in a 2017 interview. “It has always been my life’s mission to take care of those communities that don’t have the ways and means to get access that other communities have.” In the past year, New Bridge was among the first hospitals hit by the pandemic as it swept across Bergen County and eventually North Jersey and the rest of the state, bringing about painful lessons for medicine and public health. New Bridge has made efforts to broaden access to care, and it serves as a major COVID-19 vaccine center in North Jersey.

Dennis Wilson

Wilson took over the top spot at Parsippany-based Delta Dental of New Jersey – the state’s largest dental insurer, covering 1.6 million people – in 2013 after a stint as Mid-Atlantic regional president for national managed care organization Coventry Health Care/Aetna. In January, he became chairman of DeltaUSA, the subsidiary of Delta Dental Plans Association that enables Delta Dental to centrally administer national or multistate insurance programs. Delta Dental’s charitable arm awards $1 million in grants each year to dental clinics, hospitals, and health centers that provide dental care to underserved children, developmentally disabled persons, seniors, and veterans. The foundation also provides grants to support dental hygiene and dental assisting scholarships, along with dental education programs for children. Wilson sees dental insurance taken on an even greater role in the health care industry after the pandemic. Dental benefits, particularly as it’s becoming more and more clear the connectivity between oral health and systemic medical health – cancers, diabetes coronary artery maladies — are becoming so connected,” he recently told NJBIZ. “The body starts at the oral cavity, if you will, so the realization of that plus the realization that hey everybody likes and deserves a healthy smile … it’s great to have a nice set of teeth to show off. That has not changed. We’re really working on finding ways to cover the 20% of our population that either has inadequate or no dental benefits at all so that’s a work in progress for us and we intend to climb that mountain.”