ROI Influencers: Health Care 2021 — Hospital Heroes, N to Z

Trish O’Keefe
President/chief nurse executive
Morristown Medical Center/Atlantic Health

O’Keefe began her career as a bedside nurse at what was then Morristown Memorial Hospital, eventually rising to president in 2016. She now leads the top hospital in the state, achieving the top spot in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report rankings every year since 2018. The hospital keeps improving. It recently announced plans for a $26.9 million upgrade to its emergency department.

Nancy Palamara
VP, diagnostics and therapeutics
Holy Name

She was a key force throughout Holy Name’s initial crisis response to COVID-19 in 2020, overseeing six clinical service lines to care for patients and safeguard staff, as well as the pharmacy’s participation in developing groundbreaking investigational therapies and conducting clinical trials. She then oversaw Holy Name’s vaccination efforts, which included four community sites and multiple mobile clinics in Bergen and Hudson counties — helping the hospital vaccinate more people than any other hospital.

Don Parker
Hackensack Meridian Carrier Clinic

The longtime expert in behavioral health services for the network is always looking for additional treatment options. When HMH opened the Retreat & Recovery at Ramapo Valley earlier this year, it did so with technological advances (think virtual reality tools) while maintaining its old-school charm. HMH is a leader in behavioral health in the state. Parker is one of the main reasons why.

Chris Pernell
Chief strategic integration & health equity officer
University Hospital

Pernell, frequently seen on TV, can be described as a dynamic physician leader and social change agent who focuses on health justice, community-based advocacy and health promotion, and disease prevention. She oversees a number of initiatives involving population health, community affairs and strategic planning.

Mark Rosenberg; Alexis LaPietra
Emergency Medical Department
St. Joseph’s Health

Pair has been humble about the success of the program, and continues to find new ways to improve on it. The program has expanded its use into multiple areas, including dentistry and OB/GYN, and has set the blueprint for providers around the country to follow. Such national impact from an unassuming small hospital system shows how influential — and innovative — New Jersey is on the national scene.

Steven Sheris
SVP, chief physician executive/president
Atlantic Health System/Atlantic Medical Group

Sheris is charged with developing the highest-performing multispecialty group in the country through Atlantic Medical Group. He serves on the senior management team of Atlantic Health System, and leads Atlantic Medical Group, Primary Care Partners and new physician enterprises with a heavy focus on quality improvement through patient outcomes and experiences.

Alan Sickles
Saint Michael’s Medical Center

Sickles, a highly regarded breast cancer surgeon, has helped elevate Saint Michael’s since taking over as CEO just after the start of the pandemic. The hospital greatly improved its safety grades, reopened its fellowship program and acquired lots of new equipment, including a huge upgrade for stroke victims. Those are just some of the reasons Saint Michael’s was named one of the two top hospitals in the country for health equity.

Kevin Slavin
St. Joseph’s Health

Slavin was honored with the 2021 Distinguished Service Award by the New Jersey Hospital Association for leading his hospital’s efforts during the first year of the pandemic. St. Joseph’s, located in the densely populated city of Paterson, was at the epicenter of the pandemic, as it quickly witnessed one of the largest amounts of COVID-19 patients in the state — with some of the most seriously ill cases.

Mark Sparta
Chief hospital executive
Hackensack University Medical Center

Hackensack Meridian Health has handled more COVID-19 cases than any other system in the state — and HUMC has cared for more patients than any other hospital, handling more than 500 cases a day at its peak. And doing so while providing world-class care. These efforts, led by Sparta, helped HUMC regain its ranking as top hospital in the state — an honor it shared this year.

Mark Stauder
Chief operating officer
Hackensack Meridian Health

He is one of the many unheralded heroes at Hackensack Meridian Health. Stauder, who coordinated the response and manned the network’s command center throughout the pandemic, continues to be a key operational leader of one of the state’s two big health systems.

Darrell Terry
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

Terry is overseeing the $150 million expansion project at Newark Beth, one that includes a new 17,000-square-foot, glass-enclosed main lobby, expanded adult and pediatric emergency departments, new hybrid operating rooms and a dedicated center for all cardiac services. It even has a nickname, “Newark Strong,” dubbed as such in recognition of the impact it will have on the community.

Dan Varga
Chief physician executive
Hackensack Meridian Health

As the top doc at HMH, Varga managed the clinical response across the network in terms of clinical best practices and lessons learned in order to keep everyone — patients and HMH health care workers — safe. Varga has a knack for simplifying the most complicated medical issues and procedures.

Deborah Visconi
CEO and president
Bergen New Bridge Medical Center

Visconi, who has been at the helm of the medical center since October 2017, has helped turn the fourth-largest public hospital in the country (more than 1,000 beds) into one of the state’s finest. A leader during the pandemic, it has led the way in testing and in the care for underserved communities. It is also a leader in LGBTQ health care.

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