Ed Jimenez, a Florida hospital executive who previously held top positions at three northern New Jersey health systems, on Thursday was named CEO of University Hospital in Newark.
Jimenez succeeds interim CEO Mary Maples, who was not a candidate for the position, and former CEO Shereef Elnahal, who announced in the spring that he was taking a position as undersecretary of Veterans Affairs for health.
Tanya Freeman, chair of the University Hospital board of directors, said she felt Jimenez is a great fit for the role.
“We began the search for our next president and CEO with several goals and expectations,” she said. “We wanted a leader with the experience to propel our vision of improving health for generations to come.”
Jimenez, who is expected to start in January, has plenty of experience — and certainly is familiar with the facility, having served as the executive director for ambulatory services of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now University Hospital) from 2003-05.
He also worked at St. Joseph’s Healthcare System in Paterson (serving as system vice president from 2005-10) and Valley Health in Ridgewood (serving as director, operations, and business development from 1995-2001).
Most recently, Jimenez spent the past 12 years in Florida, working at University of Florida Health, Shands Hospital, where he served as CEO for eight years before leaving last summer.
At UF Health, Jimenez was responsible for the operations at a 1,000-bed health system anchored by an 850-bed, nationally known academic medical center. The system has a $1.5 billion budget and nearly 8,000 employees.
University Hospital is New Jersey’s only public acute care hospital and is the principal teaching hospital for Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine and all other Newark-based medical education.
Gov. Phil Murphy said he’s confident Jimenez is the right person for the job.
“To lead a hospital as essential as University Hospital is to the people of our state requires both a level-headed and compassionate approach that I am confident Ed Jimenez will bring to this role,” he said. “Throughout his career, he has overseen significant hospital expansions and optimized the operations of a complex organization by navigating professional partnerships, implementing creative and data-driven solutions, and maintaining the bold vision necessary to accomplish these goals.
“I commend Chair Freeman and the entire University Hospital board for finding such a qualified candidate to lead our state’s only public hospital, and thank interim CEO Mary Maples for serving this hospital with dedication and skill during this transition.”
Jimenez said he is ready to return to Newark.
“I return to University Hospital with a profound appreciation for its continued commitment to the underserved communities of Newark,” he said. “I would like to thank Mary Maples for assisting with a smooth transition, and the board of directors for choosing me to build upon the mission and values of University Hospital as a community-first facility dedicated to the public good.
“I look forward to working with the UH team to expand the hospital’s influence as a leading advanced care resource for the region and beyond.”
The announcement comes months after Elnahal announced he was headed to Washington, D.C. Soon after, the University Hospital board created a search committee and hired executive search firm Odgers Berndtson to help fill the role.
The board also conducted two listening sessions with stakeholders and community members to hear their input regarding characteristics the ideal candidate would possess.
Dr. Diane Hill, chairwoman of University Hospital Community Oversight Board, said the process was thorough.
“Newark is New Jersey’s largest city by population and one of the state’s most diverse municipalities,” she said. “We needed a leader who understood how to work with diverse populations to overcome specific health disparities facing our communities every day.
“Mr. Jimenez knows Newark and has proven his ability to execute the mission and vision of University Hospital with targeted, data-driven methods with empathy and refinement. We welcome him and look forward to collaborating on our continued implementation of our health programs across the city and region as we improve the quality of life for communities in Newark and beyond.”
Maple was lauded for her work as interim CEO, ensuring the hospital moved forward. Maples, who joined University Hospital in 2018 as chief legal officer and corporate secretary, agreed to accept the interim position and delay a planned departure from the hospital to ensure a smooth transition.
“We are grateful to Mary Maples for her leadership and her willingness to step into this critical interim role, even though she chose not to pursue the permanent position,” Freeman said. “Mary has been an invaluable adviser to the Hospital and the board since she joined our team, and we are thankful for her expertise, insight and guidance when we needed it most.”
Maples, who is expected to leave the hospital, said she will continue to help in any way she can.
“It has been my honor to work with the incredible team at University Hospital over the last four years and see the amazing progress we have made together as we pursue our vision to partner with our communities to improve health for generations to come,” she said. “I am grateful to the board of directors and community oversight board members for their steadfast partnership as we have worked diligently to further our mission to deliver exceptional care to every patient, every time.
“I will always support the work of University Hospital and am excited to see the new heights the team will reach under Ed’s leadership.”