Here we are again. Two years ago, NJBIZ published our Health Care Power 50 list just as the COVID-19 pandemic was at its worst. The state’s response shaped the choices made for that list, with good reason. As RWJBarnabas Health CEO Barry Ostrowsky said back then, “None of us in our careers and our lives have ever seen anything like this.”
Last year, the pandemic was still a fact of life, though many experts and officials believed it would soon begin to fade. Still, it was a time to take stock and express gratitude to the professionals who met the unprecedented challenge posed by COVID-19. A year ago, victory seemed at hand. Normal life beckoned.
Not so fast. First delta, then omicron knocked back the optimism that prevailed in early 2021. Nonetheless, at this writing, many New Jerseyans have resumed something like the life they had in 2019. Restaurants, bars, sporting events and theaters are again welcoming patrons. Your correspondent can report that two recent transcontinental airline flights were full – arriving and departing to and from crowded airports. The economy is improving to such an extent that the Federal Reserve is back to fighting inflation. COVID-19 remains a factor in most residents’ decision-making, but in the background.
Still, this year’s ranking continues to reflect efforts to defeat the pandemic. Or at least control it the way other persistent public health threats are mitigated. Next year’s list, surely, will look different.
In fact, change is inevitable. You’ll see that several of our honorees plan to retire this year – including the aforementioned Ostrowsky. We wish all of them well and again thank them for their hard work and dedication.
But New Jerseyans should expect that their actions to first “flatten the curve,” then to get vaccinated and boosted, and to postpone important life events until a safer time will bear fruit. And health care professionals like those listed in these pages will see their work dominated by the virus. Next year, we hope, this list will look, well, normal.
So check out the profiles in these pages and let us know what you think of the choices that went into the list. As always, the top 10 honorees are listed in numerical order; the rest are listed alphabetically.