Robert Wood Johnson Hospital and Somerset Medical Center Officially Complete Merger

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—As of June 1, Somerset Medical Center is officially part of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), creating a 965-bed hospital in New Brunswick and Somerville.

The merger, which was originally signed in October 2013, is the second of six hospital mergers planned statewide for this year.

With Somerset Medical Center reportedly having “$80.1 million outstanding bonds issued by the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority,” the pairing may be occurring at the right time

“The merged hospital will be one of the largest acute care facilities in New Jersey, strengthening our ability to serve our community for generations to come,” Kenneth Bateman, president and CEO of Somerset Medical Center, said in a statement last year.

In the beginning, officials said merger would officially join two already close institutions and would not overshadow their commitment to patient care.

“Because our organizations have had long-standing partnerships in many areas of clinical care and share many of the same physicians, we anticipate a smooth transition process,” John R. Lumpkin, chair of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Board of Directors, also commented in the statement.

However, for Bateman and several senior executives at Somerset Medical Center, the union marks the end of their tenure at the hospital.

In May, NJ.com reported that Bateman and 10 executive members will voluntarily leave once the merger is completed.

While no reason for their departure was given, Vincent D. Joseph, executive vice president of RWJUH agreed to step in as the site administrator at the Somerset campus until a replacement is found.

“The culmination of our merger provides a natural opportunity to make a seamless transition and begin a new chapter in my professional career, and I have made the decision to step down as President and CEO," Bateman recently said in a statement.

"I will look back on my tenure here and at all of our mutual achievements with great pride."

For employees like Paul V. Stahlin, their positions “smoothly transitioned” to the new hospital. Stahlin, the Chairman of Somerset Medical Center’s Board of Trustees will now serve on the boards of RWJUH and the Robert Wood Johnson Health System.

“Throughout the merger process we have worked together to ensure a seamless transition for our patients and staff and have implemented shared best practices at both campuses,” Stahlin commented in yesterday’s statement.

“This alliance enables us to offer expanded access to high-quality medical care close to home and strengthens our ability to serve our community for generations to come.”

However, all will not change under the new merger.

According to the statement released Sunday, the Somerset Medical Center Foundation will remain independent of the hospital, under a new name: Somerset Health Care Foundation.

Despite its independence, RWJUH plans to contribute $1 million over three years to the foundation.

Furthermore, Somerset University Hospital’s Steeplechase Cancer Center will keep its name, and partner with the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (Rutgers-CINJ), part of the RWJ system.

RWJUH concluded the statement by mentioning that patients’ access to their doctors will not be affected.

But employees at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset may face changes in the near future.

While the 5,200 employees’ jobs at the New Brunswick branch are said to be safe, 2,200 employees at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset have only been guaranteed the same hours and salary for a year, according to a report on NJ.com.

Nevertheless, Stephen K. Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJUH, celebrated the merger in a message published on the hospital's website.

“For more than a century, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has been committed to improving the health of Central New Jersey,” Jones wrote.

“Now, more Central New Jersey residents access to highest-quality academic medical care and research, a wider array of specialty services and an expanded menu of health and wellness programs to meet specific health care needs within the diverse communities we serve.”