New Jersey hospital CEO, former state health commissioner picked by Biden for VA role

Shereef Elnahal, MD, president and CEO of University Hospital in Newark, N.J., and former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, is President Joe Biden's pick for undersecretary for health for the Veterans Health Administration at the Veterans Affairs Department, the White House said March 9. 

Dr. Elnahal took the helm of University Hospital in 2019, after serving as state health commissioner. He was New Jersey's first Muslim Cabinet official, according to

"Both in his roles as commissioner and as CEO of University Hospital, Shereef brought together diverse communities and put equity at the forefront of his work. Moreover, his efforts at ensuring the ability of University Hospital to serve all needing care throughout the COVID pandemic have been nothing short of herculean," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy stated

"While I am sad to see him leave New Jersey, I know that the VA and our nation's veterans will be the better for his returning expertise and knowledge in one of the federal government's truly consequential posts," the governor said. 

Dr. Elnahal has worked at the VA before as assistant deputy undersecretary for health, quality, safety and value.

As CEO of University Hospital, he has focused on improving quality and safety, and has been vocal about his organization's efforts during the pandemic. In December 2020, Maritza Beniquez, an emergency room nurse at University Hospital was the first person in New Jersey to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

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