“We are proud to support the students and faculty of the esteemed Pontificia Universidad Católica,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO, Hackensack. “Our dedicated team members at Hackensack Meridian Health, and partner organizations – CDW Healthcare and Chrome Enterprise – have made this generous donation possible. The people of Puerto Rico have faced serious challenges over the past several years, and we are humbled and honored to play a small part in helping them continue to rebuild. We hope that our donation helps educate future leaders who will create a stronger, healthier tomorrow, and we also hope it inspires others to give back to communities in need.”
Hackensack Meridian Health’s work in Puerto Rico began in January 2020, thanks to Mariela Paredes, executive assistant at the health network, who spearheaded a plan to help support local residents. Paredes has family members living in Puerto Rico and understood how challenging the living conditions on the island had become. The southwestern part of Puerto Rico had recently been hit by a series of devastating earthquakes, just as residents were still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria that struck in September 2017.
With the support of the Hackensack Meridian executive leadership team, including a $20,000 donation from CEO Robert C. Garrett, and additional generosity from fellow team members, Paredes put together a plan to raise money and provide supplies to support families in the southwestern part of the island, including cots, mattresses, food, blankets and other emergency items. Hackensack Meridian partnered with Puerto Rico Rise Up, a nonprofit of mostly doctors and business leaders with ties to Puerto Rico, and All Hearts and Hands, a disaster relief nonprofit that uses community and volunteer engagement to help families recover faster from natural disasters.
On behalf of Hackensack Meridian Health, Paredes traveled to Puerto Rico in late February 2020 to distribute supplies to impacted families. She also volunteered with All Hearts and Hands to repair a family’s home destroyed by the hurricane. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, suspending plans for Paredes to return to Puerto Rico in April 2020 – until this week.
Paredes is now fully vaccinated and will be back in Puerto Rico this week to donate Google Chromebooks to students at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico on behalf of the health network. “I am thrilled to continue our mission in Puerto Rico on behalf of Hackensack Meridian Health,” Paredes said. “Between Hurricane Maria and the devasting earthquakes, so many schools here have been completely destroyed. Many children are not receiving a proper education. Being able to make this donation today is the most amazing feeling. It is a dream come true.”
Paredes added, “This has been a work of love and compassion for more than just me. This wasn’t just my own project; this was a true group effort of our entire team.”
ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH
Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care.
Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals – JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.
Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has more than 36,000 team members, and over 7,000 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.
The network’s notable distinctions include having four hospitals among the top in New Jersey by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and being named to Becker’s Healthcare’s “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019” list.
The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine opened in 2018, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its third class of students in 2020 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it.
Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.
For additional information, please visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.