As an Assistant Commissioner for the New Jersey State Department of Health, Stefanie Mozgai oversees the Health Facility Survey & Field Operations for the department. And, without hesitation, she credits the decision she made more than 20 years ago to enroll at Essex County College as being the impetus that has led her to this stage in her life.
Mrs. Mozgai was fresh out of college, armed with Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Psychology, and “wondering what I was going to do with it.” The then Bloomfield resident landed a part-time nursing aide job at the Carrier Clinic, in Belle Meade, where she became interested in the health care profession.
She decided the best way to improve her marketable skills was to take some science courses, opting to enroll at nearby Essex County College. She subsequently decided the College’s highly regarded Associate degree Nursing program would be an outstanding career option. And the Class of 1996 alumna has never forgotten what Essex has meant to her.
In fact, Mrs. Mozgai has in her state office several reminders of her time as an Essex student. On her desk is her Spirit of Nursing Award clock and plaque she received at the time of her graduation. She also has a chair emblazoned with the College logo.
After graduation, Mrs. Mozgai went to work for a long term care facility. “I never thought I would want to work a 3 to 11 p.m. shift in a geriatric unit, but I loved it,” she recalled. After several years there, she saw a job posting in the state department, working her way up and leading to her current position.
Mrs. Mozgai oversees a unit of 100 nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, and building inspectors that ensures that all health care facilities in New Jersey including hospitals, dialysis units, home health agencies, nursing home, assisted living residences, and same day surgical centers are safe and operating in compliance with state and federal regulations.
“In the 17 years I have been here, no day has ever been the same,” said Mrs. Mozgai. Noting that health care changes so rapidly, she said that a major regulatory focus is on infection control, for example.
In addition to her state position which also involves speaking to numerous organizations on new Medicare regulations, Mrs. Mozgai also finds time to serve as treasurer for the Association of Health Facility Survey Agencies. The Association advocates, oversees, and coordinates health care standards to assure high quality care for all state and federally regulated health care providers.
Mrs. Mozgai looks back nostalgically on her somewhat intimidating first day Nursing orientation. In no uncertain terms, Mrs. Mozgai and the rest of her classmates were told what was expected of them going forward.
“I look at how much I’ve accomplished and it would not be possible without my Nursing degree from Essex County College and I mean it with all my heart.”