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Jennifer G. Velez Named to Top 25 Innovators in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare

Velez Recognized for Her Leadership, Influence, and Contributions to New Jersey

Jennifer Velez, Executive Vice President, Community and Behavioral Health for RWJBarnabas Health

West Orange, NJ, August 19, 2019 – Jennifer G. Velez, Executive Vice President, Community and Behavioral Health for RWJBarnabas Health, today was named one of the Top 25 Innovators in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare. This national recognition honors healthcare executives across the industry who have taken initiative to address an unmet need and improve health outcomes.

Ms. Velez serves as co-chair of the RWJBarnabas Health Tackling Addiction Task Force with Dr. Chris Freer, System Director of Emergency Medicine and Chairman of the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Emergency Department, overseeing systemwide efforts to proactively address the chronic disease of addiction. Four areas of focus have been identified to align efforts across all facilities in combatting substance use disorder (SUD): education, prevention, treatment and recovery. Through these comprehensive efforts, the system has significantly decreased the number of patients receiving new or continuing opioid prescriptions and has connected more than 21,000 patients with Peer Recovery Specialists, 80% of whom accepted services. In her role, Ms. Velez has been instrumental in leading a paradigm shift in treating SUD as a disease, not a moral failing. This de-stigmatization, combined with the deployment of an in-house team of peer recovery specialists, is regarded by the system as the most important piece in treating SUD effectively.

“Modern Healthcare’s recognition of Jen as one of the Top 25 Innovators in Healthcare is a well-deserved testament to the dedicated work she is doing and the significant change she is effecting within our communities,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health. “Jen has proven her unwavering commitment to reversing the opioid crisis in New Jersey and we are proud to have her as such a strong advocate for improved outcomes in our communities.”

In addition to her work with the Tackling Addiction Task Force, Ms. Velez oversees RWJBarnabas Health Behavioral Health, which includes a stand-alone 100-bed inpatient facility, and the largest behavioral health network in New Jersey, as well as the Geriatrics strategy for the system. Her eight years of experience as the longest-serving Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services equips her with an intricate understanding and advantage in serving residents and improving the whole health of the communities we serve.

About RWJBarnabas Health

RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering nine counties with five million people. The system includes eleven acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, RWJUH in New Brunswick, RWJUH Somerset in Somerville, RWJUH Hamilton, RWJUH Rahway and Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston; three acute care children’s hospitals and a leading pediatric rehabilitation hospital with a network of outpatient centers, a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, two trauma centers, a satellite emergency department, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, a medical group, multi-site imaging centers and an accountable care organization.

RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest private employer – with more than 33,000 employees, 9,000 physicians and 1,000 residents and interns – and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health recently announced a partnership with Rutgers University to create New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. The collaboration will align RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey - the state's only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center - and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.