NJHA’s celebrates health care’s superstars with Best at the Beach 2023 honorees

The New Jersey Hospital Association’s 2023 Best at the Beach, a seaside celebration of the state’s health care community, will be held July 13 at Ocean Place Resort and Spa in Long Branch, where it will honor some of health care’s superstars.

“Health care attracts people with big hearts, cool heads and a drive to help others,” NJHA CEO and President Cathy Bennett said. “Our Best at the Beach honorees represent some of the most moving stories and inspirational leaders in New Jersey’s health care community. They are among the hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans who choose a career of caring, and we are grateful for their service.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Gary Horan, recently retired CEO and president of Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, part of RWJBarnabas Health. With more than 30 years of experience as a hospital CEO and president in the tri-state region, he was a singular force that ensured continued access to hospital care for the people of Elizabeth by merging two struggling hospitals into Trinitas Regional Medical Center. His crowning achievements in his long career include overseeing Trinitas’ integration into RWJBarnabas Health and the opening of a new medical arts facility to continue delivering high quality care to the city.

The Distinguished Service Award will be presented to two health care leaders that give back to New Jersey’s health care system, patients and communities. They are Tom Biga, executive vice president and president of the Northwest Region for RWJBarnabas Health, and Bob Segin, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Virtua Health. While providing exceptional service to their health systems, they also generously share their insight and expertise with colleagues statewide and, in the process, advance good health and quality care in New Jersey.

For the first time, NJHA is presenting the Emeritus Prize, recognizing a retiring leader who has left a legacy of unselfish commitment to the association and New Jersey’s provider community. In the inaugural class, the Emeritus Prize will be presented to two retiring hospital CEOs who also served as chairs of the NJHA board of trustees during the challenging pandemic years: Lori Herndon of AtlantiCare, and Kevin Slavin of St. Joseph’s Health.

Other individuals and programs to be honored at NJHA’s Best at the Beach are:

  • Lifetime Achievement – Clinical Leadership: Dr. Walter Rosenfeld, medical director of children’s health, Atlantic Health System;
  • Distinguished Service – Trustee: Frank Fekete, board of trustees chair, Hackensack Meridian Health;
  • Clinical Excellence: Suzanne Spernal, senior vice president of women’s services, RWJBarnabas Health, and Dr. Bipinchandra Patel, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief, the Children’s Hospital at St. Peter’s Healthcare System (posthumously);
  • Healthy New Jersey Award: Center for Healing, Cooper University Health Care;
  • Excellence in Patient Experience: Patient experience team, Morristown Medical Center, and Southgate Special Care, Christian Health New Jersey;
  • Diversity and Inclusion Award: Social Equality Council, Valley Health System;
  • Innovation in Elder Services: Roberto Muñiz, CEO and president, Parker Health Group;
  • Emerging Leader Award: Diana Candelejo, assistant vice president for economic inclusion, social impact and community investment, RWJBarnabas Health, and William O’Connor, executive director at the Chelsea at Bald Eagle, Chelsea Senior Living;
  • Connect Award for Outstanding Communication: Shining a Light on Team Members, Hackensack Meridian Health, and “Class of 93” Colon Cancer Awareness Campaign, Virtua Health.

NJHA’s Best at the Beach celebration is open to all stakeholders and businesses who share NJHA’s commitment to improving the health of New Jersey. Event details and registration can be found here.