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University Hospital (UH), the State’s only public acute care hospital, announced today that it has unanimously appointed Mary K. E. Maples, Esq. as Interim President and CEO effective upon the departure of current President and CEO Shereef Elnahal, MD, MBA. Maples, University Hospital’s Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, has been serving in her current role since 2018.  She previously worked with the Hospital while serving as Deputy Chief Counsel and Director of Authorities for Governor Phil Murphy, and Senior Counsel for Governor Chris Christie. Elnahal has been nominated by President Biden to serve as the Undersecretary for Health for the Veterans Health Administration in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

“As the Hospital searches for its next permanent President and CEO, the Board of Directors wanted to ensure stability for the organization as it continues to build on the operational and quality of care successes in recent years. We are thankful that Mary will stay on at University Hospital and will work closely with the Board in establishing a state-of-the-art, fiscally responsible, world-class acute care institution,” said Tanya L. Freeman, Chair of the University Hospital Board of Directors. “As we continue to transform Newark and the region’s anchor healthcare institution and hospital safety net, the Board of Directors has the utmost confidence in Mary and our Leadership Team to continue to deliver on our promise to our community. We are also grateful and appreciative for the hard work done by Dr. Elnahal to put us on a path for continued success.”

Maples will lead University Hospital during a pivotal time in its rich history, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic moves closer to an endemic state. Maples was an integral part of the Hospital’s crisis response to the pandemic both within its local communities and at the state level. Maples, along with Elnahal, were selected by Governor Murphy and Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli to serve as Regional Collaborators for the COVID-19 response in the northern region of the Garden State.

“University Hospital has steadily pursued an upward trajectory in recent years across operations, patient care, quality, and community trust.  I am very excited and deeply honored to have the opportunity to lead this organization as we continue to meet the healthcare needs of our patients and the community,” said Maples. “The Board’s vision for this hospital, fueled by the strength and energy of my colleagues, has set the institution on a path to become a world-class academic health medical center.  I am delighted to continue working with the leadership team, and our entire Hospital family, to build on our success and see the institution live more deeply into our mission, vision and values.”

Before her tenure at University Hospital, Maples served the federal government for more than 11 years in the Central Intelligence Agency. There, she specialized in security matters before joining the Office of General Counsel. Maples holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from American University, Washington College of Law.

UH announced in January that it awarded a contract to create a master plan for a new hospital to Gensler, a global architecture, design, and planning firm. The master plan will provide a pathway towards a transformed hospital campus, one that would bring new facilities and a modern, transformative investment into the health of residents in Greater Newark. Earlier this month, the Hospital announced a partnership and $42 million in financing to develop a 78-unit affordable rental apartment complex in Newark’s Fairmont neighborhood. The project, developed under the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s (NJHMFA) Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program, will function as a gateway to University Hospital and will be designed to improve resident health outcomes. Construction is set to begin in the coming weeks.

“Mary Maples has been an integral part of our Leadership Team for a number of years, serving as both a critical advisor and an expert manager in advancing the organization forward—especially as the Hospital has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. I am pleased that the Board of Directors recognized her skill, passion, and drive for University Hospital,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “The future is brighter than ever for University Hospital, and the institution is in great hands with Mary at the helm of our leadership team.”

In recent years, Hospital and clinical leadership have worked tirelessly to achieve dramatic improvements in the quality of care delivered to patients and the financial performance of the operations. Compared to 2018, UH has achieved significant improvement in its quality measures across an array of common Hospital Acquired Conditions, including central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) by 40.3%; catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) by 47.1%; C. difficile by 22.6%; and Surgical Site Infection by 86.2%. UH has also improved the efficiency of its care delivery, decreasing Length of Stay by 7.3%, and meeting the Vizient national benchmark of other complex academic medical centers throughout the country.

Simultaneously with its quality initiatives, and without compromising care, the Hospital’s leadership team has keenly focused on operational efficiency, achieving results that a State Monitor called for in 2018. Through careful control of expenses and smart capital investments, UH now boasts positive bottom-line results after several years in the negative. In terms of hospital recovery, University Hospital made Forbes‘ 2021 list of America’s Best Employers, and was recognized by the Lown Institute as among the top 10 hospitals in the nation ranked for community benefit. The Hospital continues to show consistent improvement in its performance as part of the Leapfrog Hospital Safety report card distributed in the spring and fall of each year. Financial performance continues to improve, and the hospital has completed nearly all of the recommended improvement steps requested by a state monitor in 2018.

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