New NJHA Awards Program Recognizes Members’ Efforts in Pandemic

The New Jersey Hospital Association recently honored the compassion, leadership and heroics of its members during this pandemic year with a new event, The NJHA Awards. NJHA treated healthcare workers to a beachfront party July 15 and presented awards to 14 individuals and organizations for exemplary service to the people of New Jersey during the public health emergency.

“It’s been almost 18 months since COVID-19 reached our shores. With a novel virus you learn on the move. So, we did what we always do in healthcare; we faced the challenge head-on,” said NJHA President and CEO Cathy Bennett. “It is ingrained in you – all of you – to care for others before yourselves, and we saw that spirit of self-sacrifice time and time again throughout the pandemic.”

NJHA Board Chair Doug Struyk, president and CEO of Christian Health, announced the following award winners:

  • Distinguished Service – Kevin J. Slavin, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health and 2020 NJHA Board Chair, who was recognized for his leadership during the pandemic on behalf of the entire NJHA membership and St. Joseph’s own community of Paterson.
  • Lifetime Achievement, Leadership – Frank Vozos, MD, RWJBarnabas Health, an advocate for quality patient care as a physician, a hospital executive and an NJHA Board member.
  • Lifetime Achievement, Clinical Excellence – R. Phillip Dellinger, MD, Cooper University Health Care, who was recognized for his state and national leadership in improving sepsis care and outcomes and sharing that expertise with colleagues through NJHA quality improvement collaboratives.
  • Chair’s Award – Alan Lieber, president, Overlook Medical Center, and vice president, Atlantic Health System, for outstanding leadership and governance.
  • Chair’s Award – Joseph Lemaire, president, Health Ventures, Hackensack Meridian Health, recognized for leadership and investments to advance health innovation.
  • Advocacy Action Award – Fred Hipp Jr., Virtua Health (presented posthumously), who was honored for his commitment, professionalism and tireless advocacy for health policies that promote access to care and healthy communities.
  • Clinical Excellence – St. Joseph’s Health Laboratory, which was the first hospital laboratory in the state to perform in-house COVID testing to ensure faster diagnosis and treatment.
  • Connect Award for Outstanding Communications – AtlantiCare, which was honored for its comprehensive internal and external outreach campaign to protect staff, patients and communities against COVID.
  • Counselor of the Year – Thomas Flynn, senior vice president, legal affairs, Hackensack Meridian Health, honored for his legal leadership that helped form one of the state’s largest health systems, and for service above and beyond as an incident commander during the pandemic.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Champion – Atiya Jaha-Rashidi, chief equity officer, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, RWJBarnabas Health, for leading community healing after the death of George Floyd with virtual town halls and White Coats for Black Lives learning sessions.
  • Emerging Leader – Maggie Pogorelec, DNP, RN, director of care coordination and women’s and children’s services, Valley Health System, for early career leadership that have helped improve care, efficiency and outcomes for patients.
  • Excellence in Patient Experience – Virtua Health, for its success in vaccinating community members against COVID, including telephone calls to 10,000 individuals to help them secure vaccination appointments.
  • Healthy New Jersey Award – Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, for its collaboration with local schools, churches, food banks and municipalities to reach the Latinx population with COVID information, facemasks, hand sanitizers and other resources.
  • Innovation in Elder Services – Pamela Garofolo, corporate manager, Tapestries Memory Care, United Methodist Communities, who has championed the Tapestries model which prioritizes residents’ comfort and happiness, including them in decisions about their daily lives and encouraging them to be active and social members of their “neighborhood.”

Visit for photo downloads of all of NJHA’s honorees.

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