Winter | 2022
Making Ripples in 2021: SHC Made a BIG Impact 
Uncovering a need and coming up with a solution is paramount to Summit Health Cares’ ethos. 2021 was a tough year – for everyone. And that is why it was more important than ever for SHC to make a positive impact in the community.
New Summit Scholars Program Churns Out Impactful Solutions
Hands-on experience is something most students crave but for students pursuing a career in health care, it’s even more valuable. No one understands this more than Dr. Hari Nadiminti, Mohs Micrographic Surgeon at Summit Health and Treasurer of the Board at Summit Health Cares. Dr. Nadiminti created SHC’s Summit Scholars program, a project-based initiative designed to allow college students to take a deep dive into a community health issue, then develop meaningful and obtainable solutions.

“I wanted to get young students involved with an impactful health project and there was no better time than the pandemic,” explained Dr. Nadiminti. “There were so many students who wanted to participate.”
With COVID-19 vaccines becoming available, the first project focused on vaccine hesitancy. Students from Princeton, Rutgers University Honors College and the University of Pennsylvania came together to tackle the project head on. They helped design a study to better understand vaccine hesitancy in the underserved community, then leveraged the results to provide educational information to the community and community leaders, continuing to build trust in the medical community along the way. And they didn’t stop there. Because the survey uncovered that access to the vaccine was a concern, Summit Health Cares provided access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines at local food pantries. 
“My participation in the Summit Scholars Program not only gave me the opportunity to apply my skills to a real-world problem, but I also received valuable mentorship and guidance while working on this project,” said David Rubin, program participant and student at Rutgers University Honors College. “Being able to work on a project that directly impacts the local community gave me an amazing experience to interact with others and contribute to the health of local communities.” With the assistance of the Summit Scholars and a partnership with Mathematica, SHC was able to publish a white paper on Vaccine Hesitancy

Dr. Nadiminti hopes to address one issue each year and is planning to gather students to work on skin cancer next, developing local partnerships and creating unique ideas to raise awareness of skin cancer with the Enright Sun Safety Course™

How SHC’s Health Care Professional for a Day Program
Put One Student on the Path to Medical School
Having access to a health care professional can be about more than getting good medical care. For some, that access can spark a life-long love of medicine and a desire to be part of the medical field. That’s precisely what happened to Shaheer Rizwan after he attended Summit Health Cares’ Health Care Professional for a Day program as a 9th grader at Ridge High School in 2013.
“That was early on in my academic career and it was the first time I had spoken to a doctor in that context. That’s pretty rare,” explained Rizwan. “Kids don’t usually have that type of exposure until the end of high school or during undergrad. Participating in the program made me interested in exploring biology and medicine.” Rizwan went on to graduate from Rutgers University in 2021 with a major in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. He’s currently attending Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
The Health Care Professional for a Day program provides an opportunity for immersive learning experiences for high school students, preparing them for a future in medicine, while also helping them select a specialty area for college. The program is designed to enhance students’ traditional school experience by participating in hands-on activities, such as surgical suturing, while allowing them direct access to medical professionals.
For Rizwan, the experience meant he could hear first-hand what a typical day was like for several different types of physicians. “There were two dermatologists who were describing a ‘day in the life’ and the quality of the work they did. That was really interesting. Eight years later I could still remember one of the dermatologist’s names - Dr. Nadiminti – because he made such an impact on me.”
Rizwan’s participation in the program inspired him to become an Emergency Medical Technician at the end of 10th grade, providing another opportunity to explore medicine and patient care, while giving back to the community. He found it satisfying to see the tangible outcome of his work. During the Health Care Professional for a Day event, he had heard physicians talking about medicine as a type of detective work – and that struck a chord. “Seeing the entire process from start to finish can be really powerful - trying to come up with a diagnosis, using your tools and skill set to figure out a problem, determining a solution, then following up with the patient to see if the treatment plan worked,” Rizwan said. He knew this was the path he wanted to take.
Rizwan is set to graduate in 2025. He’s still exploring specialty areas but has a keen interest in Radiology and because of Dr. Hari Nadiminti - Dermatology.
Education + Advocacy = a Fresh Start
What would it take to help raise awareness about an issue that’s prevalent among New Jersey females? Perhaps big, bold, beautiful posters in front of a captured audience would make an impact? That’s what SHC is counting on!

A few years ago, two Summit Health physicians - Dr. Christine Masterson (Obstetrics and Gynecology) and Dr. Marnie Cambria Dardanello (Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine) joined forces to create the Fresh Start Period Initiative – a program designed to ensure menstrual equity to prevent period poverty and to provide diapers and baby hygiene products to families who need them.
“Dr. Dardanello and I were discussing how expensive diaper and period products were and thought about how we could give back to the community,” explained Dr. Masterson. “By starting the Fresh Start Period Initiative,
we hoped to help women and families with these needed items.”
SHC is putting a renewed effort behind the program because period poverty is a fixable problem. This winter, SHC put up 30 posters in bathrooms throughout the Berkeley Heights and Florham Park campuses in an effort to educate people about period poverty and advocate for menstruating individuals who do not have period supplies. As a campus, SHC is working to close the gap. A $25 donation can help provide menstrual supplies for one menstruating individual for an entire year. “Even a small donation can be life-changing! These products are necessities, not luxuries, and donation can supply products for many months.”
Through financial and product donations, including pads, tampons, diapers, baby wipes, soap, SHC is working to get basic hygiene supplies – often taken for granted by some – into the hands of those who need them. But what’s more, the organization wants to help educate people about period poverty because it impacts so many individuals. Dr. Masterson expressed, “Having your period should not be something that limits your potential. Inadequate period supplies can keep women from attending school or work.”

A Quick Look at the Facts:

  • In NJ, one in eight women and girls between the ages of 12 and 44 lives below the Federal Poverty Line, making it difficult to find the funds to pay for period supplies.
  • One in four teens in the US has missed class due to lack of access to period supplies. 
  • 60% of New Jersey families living in poverty experience financial distress and struggle to keep up with their bills and cover unexpected expenses. 
  • A $25 donation can help provide menstrual supplies for one person for a year! Donate here now.
Are You Up for the Summit Challenge?
Join Us on June 5 and Help Raise Funds to Support Cancer Warriors
This summer, Summit Health Cares is hosting a new adventure: Summit Challenge! Summit Challenge is a unique fundraising experience unlike anything you’ve encountered before. Participants run from one challenge to the next, where they jump, crawl, balance and climb through an obstacle course. Why? To raise funds for Summit Health Cares’ Cancer Comfort Project.
Summit Challenge will take place on June 5 in Northern New Jersey, offering participants an opportunity to push themselves to the limit. There is a unique challenge for all skill levels. You can participate either as a team or as an individual, competitively or non-competitively. Most importantly, you’ll be proud of what you can accomplish and enjoy the enormous sense of community you’ll experience.
Proceeds benefit SHC’s Cancer Comfort Project, providing services for Cancer Warriors to maintain their emotional, physical and spiritual well-being throughout treatment.
Ready for a challenge? Click here to learn more about Summit Challenge or to register!
For more information, visit Click here to learn more about Summit Health.