Dept of Health Commissioner on NJ's Top Healthcare Issues
Dr. Shereef Elnahal, Former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, shares some of the top issues facing healthcare in New Jersey including end of life care, the opioid crisis, black infant mortality, medical marijuana and the importance of organ and tissue donation.
"Hi, I'm Steve Adubato this is State of Affairs. We are, in fact, coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in Newark, New Jersey. It is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Shereef Elnahal, who is the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health. Commissioner, good to see you. Thanks so much Steve. Tell folks a little bit about your background before you came into this post. Sure. I actually grew up in New Jersey, in Atlantic County. I grew up between Galloway Township and Linwood, went to high school at Mainland Regional, and I spent most of my career actually outside of New Jersey before being afforded the opportunity to come back here and serve. I ended up going to medical school up in Boston, also got an MBA up there, and decided to really focus on, not just healthcare provision as a physician, but the systems of care that support... Hmm. ...folks on the front lines. And so, I got into operations management, quality safety, ultimately policy, served in the Obama Administration at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where the governor became aware of the work that we were doing and I was really glad to come back and do this role. Governor Murphy? Yeah. By the way, I was talking with the Commissioner before we got on... this, in fact, is the unofficial start, if you will, of a series of programs, simply focusing on the future of healthcare in New Jersey, also in the nation, but our mandate, if you will, is New Jersey. This is in fact the future of healthcare. And let me ask you, to that end, Commissioner, how confident are you about the future of healthcare in this state, A, and B, what are the biggest challenges we face? I'm really confident about it Steve, and the reason I say that is... everybody I've met, from hospital executives to folks on the front lines like community health workers who are in our inner cities finally reaching communities that we've failed to reach thus far for some of our public health issues... all the way to business leaders and folks that you normally wouldn't think have a hand in healthcare but ultimately do, by improving the economy and improving people's well-being... all of them are ready to start building an innovation economy here in New Jersey. What does that mean? That means starting to bring in new ideas, new entrepreneurs, people who are actually creating new solutions for some of our toughest healthcare problems. And part of what we're focused on in the Department of Health is not just, of course, improving public health..."