HACKENSACK, N.J. — Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network, is pleased to announce a generous gift of $120,000 and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from SUEZ North America to support research and the network’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nadine Leslie, CEO of SUEZ North America, presented Robert C. Garrett, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health with a gift of $100,000 and PPE to benefit the research team at Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) and an additional $20,000 to support Hackensack Meridian Palisades Medical Center’s COVID-19 Response Fund. The gift was made in memory of Joseph Simunovich, former co-chair of Hackensack Meridian Health Board of Trustees and Founding Chair of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. Mr. Simunovich also served on the Board of Directors for SUEZ North America.
“We are delighted to make this substantial donation to Hackensack Meridian Health in honor of our former colleague and great friend, Joe Simunovich,” said Nadine Leslie, CEO of SUEZ North America.
“We are excited to apply much of our donation today to the Center for Discovery and Innovation, which is so important in the fight against COVID-19 and in keeping our employees, customers and community healthy and safe.”

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Hackensack Meridian Health treated more patients in the pandemic than any other health network in New Jersey and is conducting major research to find cures for the virus, including a ground-breaking study on convalescent plasma therapy that was recently featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes.
“We are grateful to our partners at SUEZ North America for their generosity, which helps us continue to serve our communities in the most challenging health crisis our nation has faced in a century,’’ said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.  “The fact that this generous donation was made in memory of Joe Simunovich, my dear friend and mentor, makes this even more meaningful. Joe’s wisdom and vision helped shape our entire network and he is deeply missed.’’

The Center for Discovery and Innovation, which launched last year, contributed major breakthroughs to the COVID-19 pandemic: it developed the first rapid response COVID-19 test in New Jersey and partnered with network experts to conduct a clinical trial for convalescent plasma therapy, which identifies patients who recovered from the virus and produce high levels of antibodies.
“The past leadership and service of Joseph Simunovich was crucial to the creation of the CDI,” said David S. Perlin, Ph.D., CDI’s chief scientific officer. “We salute the leadership and employees of SUEZ North America for this meaningful contribution that will support our efforts to fight this pandemic. The PPE will certainly help protect our teams as well.’’
“This gift of $20,000 to Palisades Medical Center’s COVID-19 Response Fund, made in Joe Simunovich’s name by our friends at SUEZ North America, is generous, and we are thankful,” said Anthony J. Passannante, M.D., president, Palisades Medical Center. “COVID-19 has significantly impacted the communities we serve. This gift will support the care we provide to our patients, fund critical needs of our team members while advancing research for new COVID-19 treatments.”

“We are so grateful to SUEZ North America for their partnership and kind generosity to Hackensack Meridian Health in fond memory of Joe Simunovich,” said Helen A. Cunning, north regional president and chief development officer, Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation. “Joe was a dear friend who left a lasting legacy of compassion and extraordinary leadership here and in our communities. He is greatly missed.”