Robert Wood Johnson Finalizes Deal with Somerset Medical Center

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On October 2, Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) University Hospital finalized its deal to merge with the Somerset Medical Center in Somerville.

This merger will secure RWJ’s position as the most comprehensive healthcare system in Central Jersey.  The system includes the main hospital in New Brunswick as well as partnerships in other cities including Hamilton, Rahway, Old Bridge, and Perth Amboy.

“Our nation's health care system continues to evolve into one which ensures the health of entire populations, rather than focus on delivering episodes of care,” said John R. Lumpkin, Chair of RWJ University Hospital’s Board of Directors

“This new strategic partnership with Somerset Medical Center better enables us to care for the people of the region.”

As we reported earlier, Somerset Medical Center and Robert Wood Johnson announced in February 2012 that they were “exploring a partnership.”

Before the deal was official, three other premier healthcare systems including Atlantic Health, Barnebas Health, and Virtua, were all seeking partnership opportunities with the small, acute-care Somerset Medical Center.

But Paul V. Stahlin, Chairman of Somerset’s Board of Trustees, expressed the importance of having a partnership with the 600-bed University hospital in New Brunswick, as opposed to the other medical centers.

Stahlin stated in a press release, "academic medical centers offer the highest quality of care, including state-of-the-art diagnostic treatment services for the most serious medical conditions, cutting-edge medical research, and innovative techniques to improve patient outcomes and survival rates.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, more local residents are expected to gain access to health insurance services.

This means that smaller hospitals like Somerset, with only 355 beds, are looking for ways to meet the needs of the community through partnerships like these, and maintain the same level of care for a bigger population.

In a recent NJBIZ article, Beth Fitzgerald wrote, “It will be increasingly difficult for standalone community hospitals to remain independent, given the downward pressure on reimbursements from Medicare and commercial insurers.”

David Knowlton, president of the New Hersey Health Care Quality Institute, agrees that the new merger could be a successful, symbiotic relationship, benefiting both parties involved.

Knowlton specualtes,“RWJ is doing it to expand its reach into the Somerset region, and Somerset is doing it to expand access to needed specialists that RWJ has a variety of.”

"In that case, where it’s expanding service delivery, it’s probably a great idea. What you have to do is kind of wait and see how it plays out in the marketplace, and is it going to affect their prices.”