Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital New Brunswick’s Mariam Merced Receives RISE Health’s Inaugural RISE Health Care Hero Award

Mariam Merced

Merced was Recognized at The RISE Summit on Social Determinants of Health on March 21 in Nashville, Tennessee

West Orange, NJ, March 23, 2022 – Mariam Merced, Director of the Community Health Promotion Program at RWJBarnabas Health’s Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) in New Brunswick, NJ, was recognized with RISE Health’s Inaugural RISE Health Care Hero Award. This program honors an individual who has made a significant impact on the lives of underserved populations through health care and/or social services, and through superior example of the RISE mission to promote health equity among all patients. The recognition ceremony took place at The RISE Summit on Social Determinants of Health on March 21, 2022, in Nashville, TN.

Mariam MercedJoining RWJUH in 1991, Ms. Merced began her social impact work serving uninsured patients and those with limited English proficiency by facilitating connections to needed services. Throughout her tenure, she has been a staunch advocate for supporting patients and neighboring communities through programs, such as holiday celebrations for low-income children, violence prevention and intervention, drug and alcohol cessation, back-to-school donations, youth summer employment programs, and community health screenings. Currently responsible for coordinating accessible, high-quality preventive healthcare services and educational programs that advance long-term, wholistic health, Ms. Merced regularly partners with houses of worship, health institutions, and community-based organizations to design and implement culturally appropriate health initiatives that serve the county’s diverse population.

RISE Health’s recognition of Mariam Merced with the Inaugural RISE Health Care Hero Award is a well-deserved testament to her commitment toward health equity and expanding access to healthcare within Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the RWJBarnabas Health System and the greater New Jersey community,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health. “Her tireless dedication and passion have been key to advancing health outcomes in Middlesex County, both throughout the pandemic and long before.”

During the pandemic, Merced has played a crucial role in orchestrating RWJUH’s COVID-19 response – spearheading programs, initiatives, and communications designed to support residents experiencing poor health, social, and economic outcomes as a result of the pandemic and resulting disparities. When data showed that New Brunswick had one of the lowest vaccination rates in NJ, largely caused by the hesitancy among the LatinX population, Ms. Merced and her team canvassed several neighborhoods announcing vaccine clinic information and answering questions. Following those efforts, vaccination rates improved from 41 percent to 59 percent between April and June 2021.

More information on the RISE Health Care Hero Award and a summary of Ms. Merced’s award-winning submission are available here.


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 twelve acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, 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, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in Hamilton, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway in Rahway and Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, three acute care children’s hospitals, Children’s Specialized Hospital with a network of outpatient pediatric rehabilitation 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, affiliated medical groups, multi-site imaging centers and two accountable care organizations.

RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest private employer – with more than 37,000 employees and 9,000 physicians– and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health launched an affiliation with Rutgers University to create New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. The collaboration aligns 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. For more information, visit


Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) New Brunswick, an RWJBarnabas Health Facility, is a 614-bed academic medical center that serves as the principal teaching hospital of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the flagship Cancer Hospital of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Its Centers of Excellence include cardiovascular care from minimally invasive heart surgery to transplantation, cancer care, stroke care, neuroscience, orthopedics, bariatric surgery and women’s and children’s care including The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital ( A Level 1 Trauma Center and the first designated Pediatric Trauma Center in the state, RWJUH’s New Brunswick campus serves as a national resource in its ground-breaking approaches to emergency preparedness. For more Information visit us online at