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Coughlin, Singer Named NJHA Legislators of the Year

The New Jersey Hospital Association will honor Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) and Sen. Robert Singer (R-Lakewood) with its 2024 Legislator of the Year awards for their longstanding commitment to healthy communities, including combating food insecurity.

The awards will be presented July 11 at NJHA’s Best at the Beach, a beachfront event celebrating the contributions of New Jersey’s healthcare community, to be held at Ocean Place Resort in Long Branch.

As Assembly Speaker, Coughlin has championed a long list of healthcare priorities, but perhaps none more so than ensuring that New Jerseyans have access to nutritious foods, according to NJHA. He has sponsored legislation to eliminate food deserts, created food pantries on college campuses and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through his annual Bowl for Hunger event. With research showing that 80% of an individual’s health status is shaped by community factors, Speaker Coughlin’s commitment has created a foundation for health across New Jersey communities.

“For Speaker Coughlin, tackling food insecurity isn’t politics – it’s his passion,” said NJHA President and CEO Cathy Bennett. “His legacy of leadership exemplifies the NJHA mission to improve the health of New Jerseyans. Thanks to his commitment, we’re making strides in ensuring that no one goes hungry in the Garden State.”

Through his service on the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, Sen. Singer has been an advocate for patients and the healthcare provider community. He has been the steward behind bills to promote best practices in maternal health, increase funding for cancer research and expand food access for older adults. And, he has been a strong champion for Medicaid, fighting for sufficient payments to healthcare providers to ensure quality, accessible care for vulnerable New Jerseyans.

“Sen. Singer understands the complexities of healthcare, but he never loses sight of the patient,” said Bennett. “His commitment to sound health policy has left its mark on our entire healthcare system, and we’re grateful for his service and leadership.”

In addition to the Legislator of the Year awards, NJHA’s Best at the Beach honors the people and organizations that create quality, accessible, equitable care across our state. This year’s top honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Audrey Meyers, CEO of Valley Health System; the Distinguished Service Award presented to Warren Geller, president and CEO of Englewood Health and Kenneth Morris Jr., vice president of external affairs for St. Joseph’s Health; and the Emeritus Prize presented to retiring CEOs Joseph Chirichella of Deborah Heart and Lung Center and James Gonzalez of Broadway House for Continuing Care.

In addition, NJHA will present a special posthumous Icon Award to the late John Lloyd, who served as co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health and as chair of the NJHA Board of Trustees.

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