New Jersey hospital faces criticism over CEO search

University Hospital in Newark, N.J., has been searching for its next CEO to permanently replace Shereef Elnahal, MD. That successor could be announced as early as Dec. 22, the hospital board's chair told NJ Advance Media.

Dr. Elnahal left the CEO post earlier this year to take a role as the Department of Veterans Affairs' undersecretary for health. University Hospital subsequently named Mary Maples interim president and CEO.

Meanwhile, the University Hospital board has not disclosed the names of any finalists, and some community leaders have alleged that the state's only public hospital has not been transparent, according to NJ Advance Media.

That includes Newark community advocate Lavita Johnson, an assistant manager in the city's office of people's assembly, who told the publication, "We just want to be included in the process as to who the applicants are." Catherine Mazzola, MD, a neurosurgeon and member of the Newark Coalition of Concerned Citizens, expressed similar sentiments, telling the publication that the hospital hadn't reached out to the coalition.

Tanya Freeman, the hospital board chair, said candidates have been kept confidential but the search team has been "very deliberate [with informing the community], and I believe extremely transparent in the process," according to NJ Advance Media. She specifically pointed to efforts such as hiring Odgers Berndtson, an executive recruitment company, and holding listening sessions with community members. 

"The selection and appointment of the president and CEO of this hospital — while it's a matter of incredible public importance — it's still a confidential employment matter," Ms. Freeman told NJ Advance Media. "So, we gathered the voice of the public in these listening sessions, so that the search committee went into the process armed with that data."

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