The boards of three northern New Jersey hospitals agreed last week to pursue merger discussions.
Officials at Morristown (N.J.) Memorial Hospital, Mountainside Hospital in Montclair and Overlook Hospital in Summit plan to decide early next year whether to consolidate.
"It will, if accomplished, be the biggest consolidation (in New Jersey) to date," said Andrew McBride, a partner with the law firm of Kalison & McBride in Liberty Corner, N.J..
By early next year, officials will decide whether to sign a letter of intent consolidating assets of the three northern New Jersey acute-care hospitals. Together, they have a total of 1,609 licensed beds, 9,057 employees and $561 million in net patient revenues.
Morristown and Overlook have teaching affiliates with Columbia University in New York; Mountainside's affiliation is with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.
The hospitals will seek efficiencies, but not by closing facilities. Each hospital will provide basic acute-care services such as pediatrics, obstetrics and emergency services, said a Morristown spokeswoman.