Dr. Shereef Elnahal is the President and Chief Executive Officer of University Hospital in Newark, NJ- a Level I trauma center, the principal academic medical center for Rutgers NJ Medical School, the state's only public hospital, and New Jersey’s largest, urban safety net hospital. He has served in the role since the summer of 2019. Prior to his time at University Hospital, Elnahal served as New Jersey’s 21st Health Commissioner, appointed to the Cabinet post by Governor Murphy and confirmed by the New Jersey Senate, serving during the first two years of the Murphy administration.
Elnahal has led University Hospital throughthe COVID-19 public health emergency. The hospital has served as a model for urban hospital and regional response efforts, developing protocols for expanding capacity, maintaining PPE supplies, adapting clinical protocols in accordance with the latest evidence, and conducting clinical trials and research. In addition, Governor Phil Murphy tasked the hospital with coordinating regional pandemic response efforts across dozens of hospitals in northern NJ, as well as activating a military field hospital alongside the National Guard to create additional capacity in the face of the surge.
Elnahal also brought his public health background to bear in leading University Hospital through a new vision for the state’s only public hospital. He has focused on building coalitions to improve the organization’s standing in the Newark community, and has embraced the hospital’s legacy as an anchor institution with an obligation first and foremost to the city’s residents under the Newark Accords. He has placed significant focus on improving the hospital’s performance in quality and safety, restructuring to an evidence-based quality management approach that is quickly reducing infection rates and other adverse outcomes.
During his time as Commissioner, Elnahal left a lasting impact on the State’s healthcare system. He expanded the New Jersey Health Information Network, a shared services platform that provides the infrastructure for electronic exchange of patient health information among healthcare providers. He worked closely with New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy on her Nurture NJ campaign to help improve infant and maternal health outcomes and reduce health disparities – a mission he has continued at University Hospital, with its top tier maternal health practices. He more than doubled the number of patients and physicians participating in the State’s Medicinal Marijuana Program. Finally, he made strides with advancing the Governor’s agenda in the opioid epidemic, granting funding to institutions to facilitate electronic health records, data sharing, and public health reporting, and marked NJ as the first state in the nation to allow paramedics to use buprenorphine in the field.
Before his public service in New Jersey, Elnahal served in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in the Obama Administration. He was initially appointed as a White House Fellow under Secretary Bob McDonald, spearheading then- Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin’s initiative to identify and spread best practices across the Veterans Health Administration. He was then hired on as the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Quality, Safety, and Value, serving as the chief quality and patient safety officer for the largest health system in the United States.
Elnahal holds an MD from Harvard Medical School and an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School, and lives with his wife and three children in New Jersey.