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Iranian Student Turned Healthcare CEO Helps Hundreds Fight COVID-19 in Mercer County

Al Maghazehe
President & CEO, Capital Health

Al Maghazehe came to the United States as an international student in 1977, but when the Iranian Revolution broke out a year later, he realized he couldn’t safely return home.

Raised in a tight-knit family, Maghazehe struggled with loneliness at first, but finished a master’s degree in health administration at Wagner College, got a PhD in business administration, and secured an administrative position at Trenton’s Helene Fuld Medical Center. In Mercer County, he received support from his employer as he obtained his green card, and found the local community incredibly welcoming. “I feel like I grew up in Trenton,” he says. “Mercer County has given me everything I have.”

Maghazehe went on to become a citizen, and has brought his parents and in-laws to Mercer County too. “Having to leave Iran was a very difficult situation, and I went through some very tough times,” he recalls. “But I found amazing opportunities here, and got the help I needed to reunite my family.”

Rising through the ranks, Maghazehe eventually became CEO and presided over the 1998 merger that created Capital Health, now a regional healthcare powerhouse with almost a billion dollars in annual revenue. In 2009, he secured $756 million in federal support — the largest grant of its kind ever issued — to build a new state-of-the-art 233-bed hospital in Hopewell, transforming Capital Health into a major regional healthcare system. “I’m very proud of our accomplishments,” he says.

Capital Health’s headcount has more than doubled on Maghazehe’s watch, and the organization now employs around 4,500 people. The system provides outpatient care for around 26,000 people each month, and admits around 2,400 patients, drawing both patients and specialists from across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

I was given an incredible opportunity, and I’ve tried to do everything I can to give something back to my new home.

Capital Health has also played a vital role during the pandemic, with COVID-19 patients filling hundreds of its hospital beds. Under Maghazehe’s leadership, Capital Health established new COVID-19 treatment and testing facilities, and is now partnering with state officials to run the region’s largest vaccination site at Trenton’s Cure Insurance Arena.

Helping central New Jersey to weather the pandemic is deeply meaningful to Maghazehe, who has never forgotten the way the region welcomed him and gave him a safe place to raise his children. “I don’t have the words to say how grateful I am that I’ve been able to stay here and serve this community,” he says. “I was given an incredible opportunity, and I’ve tried to do everything I can to give something back to my new home.”

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