US hospital appoints Ijay Akunyili as chief medical officer

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Dr Ijeoma Akunyili

The Jersey City Medical Centre, an RWJ Barnabas Health facility in the United States of America has announced the appointment of Ijeoma Akunyili, as the new Chief Medical Officer (CMO). Effective 2 January, Ms Akunyili, the first daughter of the late Dora Akunyili, a former Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), is the first African American medical professional to serve in that role, according to a statement released on the official website of the Medical Centre.

In his remark, the MD, Executive Vice President/Chief Medical and Quality Officer at RWJ Barnabas Health, Andy Anderson, said “her experience managing multi-specialty physician groups in integrated health care systems will help support Jersey City Medical Centre in providing comprehensive health care throughout the community,”

Also in the statement, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Medical Centre, Michael Prilutsky, said Ms Akunyili “has a wealth of experience and knowledge, and as our Chief Medical Officer, we look forward to creating a world-class experience for every patient at Jersey City Medical Center. I am confident that Hudson County will benefit in a great way from her leadership, and that her presence will have a tremendous impact,” he added.

Giving a breakdown of her achievements, the US hospital noted in the statement that Ms Akunyili served as the Regional Medical Director for Team Health, Northeast Group, where she had strategic, operational and clinical oversight of nearly 20 emergency departments, critical care, and hospitalist service lines in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania.

It added that she led an unprecedented fourfold expansion of service lines with a specific focus on medical services and access to care for underserved populations, and previously served as the chair of emergency medicine at Waterbury Hospital, a Level II trauma teaching hospital.

She was awarded the 2019 Medical Director of the Year Award for the impressive turnaround of the Waterbury Hospital Emergency Department. In addition to her executive experience, it added that Ms Akunyili has vast leadership and advocacy experience and is currently serving as the President of the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians (CCEP), where she also served for several years on the board of directors.

She was an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and she is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Yale University.

Ms Akunyili was quoted as saying “I am grateful for this opportunity, and I look forward to serving the residents of Hudson County and continuing to provide safe, innovative, efficient, and equitable care. It is a true privilege to lead the clinical effort at Jersey City Medical Center and to create sustainable health outcomes for our community.”

Ms Akunyili graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania and attended the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She completed her emergency medicine residency at the McGovern Medical School at UT Health Houston.

She earned an MPA in International Development from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her mother, the late Dora Akunyili served as Director-General of NAFDAC from 2001 to 2008. She was later appointed Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communications. She died in 2014 after a two-year battle with cancer.

Jersey City Medical Center, an RWJ Barnabas Health facility, is “healing, enhancing, and investing in Hudson County. It is a comprehensive full-service acute and sub-acute care 348-bed teaching hospital.” The hospital is a not-for-profit health institution and the medical centre is a state-designated Level II Regional Trauma Center with close to 16,000 admissions and over 80,000 Emergency Department visits annually. The hospital’s specialty services include women’s health, orthopedics, heart and vascular care, and behavioural health. Imo State Business Link Magazine joins millions of your admirers, Ijay to congratulate you on this super feat. We are proud of you. Ndigbo and Ndi Africa are proud of you.

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