Rutgers Health is being developed as one of the country’s first academic health care provider organizations to integrate a full range of health-related specialties — including medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and clinical psychology — in addition to more traditional fields, such as neurology, surgery, cardiology and oncology.
As Rutgers Health's Executive Director for Health Systems and Population Health Integration, O’Dowd will draw upon her health services management expertise and public health experiences.
O’Dowd led the 1,200-member New Jersey Department of Health from 2011 through half of 2015, after first working as deputy commissioner, and since last year has been a member of the board of directors of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.
“My experiences allow me to relate well to Rutgers’ desire to make population health a priority, improve the patient experience, and develop a viable business case for prevention and wellness,” said O’Dowd, a biology major at Rutgers University’s Douglass College who earned a master’s degree in public health at Columbia University.
“Under Mary’s leadership, the Department of Health achieved significant inroads addressing a variety of population health issues,” Strom said. “Her firsthand experiences will be extremely valuable as we build an infrastructure and set our strategic and logistical priorities.”
In her new role, O’Dowd will work closely with Vicente H. Gracias, senior vice chancellor for clinical affairs for Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.
O’Dowd, who developed a strong relationship with Rutgers' School of Public Health while serving as commissioner, said that three of her team’s many achievements when she was commissioner were particularly satisfying: improving the health of newborns by increasing breastfeeding rates, expanding the hospital-based screening program for previously undetected illnesses among newborns, and implementing a program that empowers individuals to effectively plan end-of-life care with their health care providers.
Joining Rutgers in this new role expands O’Dowd’s already strong relationship with Rutgers.
Since 2004, she has served as the alumna representative on the Institute for Women’s Leadership Advisory Board. She has also been an internship sponsor for the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Douglass College and the Institute for Women’s Leadership.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the people of New Jersey as a member of the Rutgers Health team,” O’Dowd said. “The university is in a unique position to continue to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving health care landscape and serve as a leader in improving health outcomes and patient experiences.”