University Hospital announced today that Dr. Chris. T. Pernell has joined the hospital as its chief strategic integration and health equity officer.

“We are very excited to have Dr. Pernell join the University Hospital team,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, CEO and President of University Hospital.  

“With her extensive experience, she will help us meet expectations set out in our strategic plan to deliver high quality, safe, and reliable care, all while tackling the health disparities in our community," Elnahal said. "We will benefit greatly from her deep understanding of community-focused healthcare and advocacy, as we build a culture that focuses quality and equity.”

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University Hospital has been struggling financially and clinically for the last several years and last week received a D in patient safety from The Leapfrog Group. Elahal, the former state Health Commissioner in the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy, was selected in May by the hospital's board of trustees with the charge of turning the hospital around.

Pernell has been focused on health justice, community-based advocacy, and total population health promotion and disease prevention throughout her career.

"I am honored to join University Hospital and to help lead this institution toward fulfilling its mission of serving the greater Newark area through a community-focused approach to healthcare,” Pernell said.

"As the state’s only public hospital and the largest provider of healthcare for uninsured people, the hospital is critically important to the patients it serves," Pernell said. "I am excited to build upon the innovative community-based programs that have been implemented in recent months, while working to improve access to much needed care and exploring even more ways the hospital can better serve our community.”
Prior to joining University Hospital, Pernell served as the program leader for the 1199SEIU/League Labor Management Initiatives Workplace and Community Health Program. There she provided oversight for the implementation of a population health strategy to spur the culture of health, drive systems innovation, and improve the health and well-being of healthcare workers in the workplace and communities where they lived.  

Pernell has also led community initiatives in the Greater Newark region that focused on dynamic well-being and health promotion to vulnerable groups. In 2011, she ran for the Newark school board.

A graduate of Princeton University cum laude, Pernell earned her medical degree at Duke University School of Medicine. She continued on to the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, where she received a Master of Public Health, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she performed a General Preventive Medicine Residency.  

She is a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine and serves as an adjunct associate professor at the NYU College of Global Public Health.