Proposed Merger Would Create Largest Hospital Chain in Jersey

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–A historic agreement between Barnabas Health and Robert Wood Johnson Health System will create NJ’s largest health care system, if approved by the government.

The new hospital conglomerate would consist of more than a dozen hospitals with nearly 30,000 total employees in New Jersey.  The chain would be named RWJ Barnabas and representation on the entity's Board of Trustees "will be evenly divided between the two organizations."

Affording greater economies of scale and shared resources, the new health care system’s geographic footprint will span eight counties: Hudson, Essex, Union, Middlesex, Mercer, Somerset, Monmouth, and Ocean.

But the merger must still be reviewed by the NJ's Acting Attorney General John Hoffman.  That evaluation is expected to be completed next year, according to a release.

The new nonprofit entity will boast 11 acute care hospitals, three children’s hospitals, a pediatric rehabilitation hospital, a behavioral health center, ambulatory care centers, and five fitness and wellness centers.

As we reported last year, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital merged with Somerset Medical Center creating a 965-bed academic medical center with campuses in New Brunswick and Somerville.

Now, with another merger in the works, officials at both institutions say they are looking at a brigh future.

“As health care in America transforms, the new alliance positions our system as one of the foremost providers of health care and wellness services in the entire region,” said Marc E. Berson, Chairman of the Barnabas Health Board of Trustees.

“The new health system will comprise effectively every clinical service from primary to quaternary and greatly strengthen our commitment to medical education and research,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of Barnabas Health, in a statement.

“The merger also will provide a large enough geography to be appropriate for the migration to population health management.”

“Because our organizations have a shared vision for how health care should be delivered and our traditional service areas are complementary, we anticipate a smooth transition process,” said Jack Morris, Chair of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Board of Directors.

Barnabas says more than two million patients visit its facilities annually and that it delivers more than 20,000 babies per year.

In addition to two children's hospitals, Barnabas currently manages seven acute care hospitals:

  • Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville
  • Community Medical Center in Toms River
  • Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City
  • Monmouth Medical Centers in Long Branch
  • Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood
  • Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark
  • Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston

Robert Wood Johnson has four acute care university hospitals located in New Brunswick, Somerville, Hamilton, and Rahway.

The New Brunswick hospital doubles as the clinical campus for the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

It’s reportedly the nation’s largest provider of pediatric rehabilitation and has two children’s hospitals, including New Brunswick’s Children’s Specialized Hospital.

Reports that the two chains were discussing a merger became public in January. As we reported, by combining forces, with RWJ's CEO noting the potential for “increased service to the community.”

“We are excited to move forward with this historic merger agreement which will offer the diverse communities in New Jersey expanded access to the best in academic medicine and community-based care,” said Stephen K. Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer at Robert Wood Johnson.

Jones will serve as chief academic officer for the new organization, and lead efforts to strengthen the relationship between the new entity and its academic partner, Rutgers University, according to the release.

Officials at the Hub City's other major hospital, St. Peter's University Hospital, said the merger was "welcome news."

“The long-anticipated announcement of a partnership between Barnabas Health and Robert Wood Johnson Health System is welcome news to Saint Peter’s and the communities we serve,” said Ronald C. Rak, President and CEO of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System.

“This development brings an opportunity to our two New Brunswick hospitals to build upon their modest collaborative community efforts of past and present, and to explore in this ever-changing healthcare environment how to best serve the people of New Jersey,” Rak said.