A recent merger of hospitals in southern New Jersey's Cumberland County may lead to consolidation of acute-care beds within a new facility.
Following the Aug. 1 merger of Vineland-based Newcomb Health Services Corp. into Bridgeton's South Jersey Health System, board members are dusting off plans to build a centrally located hospital, aggregating beds from three of the combined system's four hospitals.
Three-hospital South Jersey operates facilities in Bridgeton, Millville and Elmer. The Federal Trade Commission's approval of the Newcomb merger adds a fourth hospital-235-bed Newcomb Medical Center in Vineland, the only other acute-care hospital in the county. The combined system of 659 licensed beds employs 3,000 people and has an annual budget of about $200 million. The system expects state approval by the fall.
George J. Gennaoui, a South Jersey spokesman, said the system board approved a plan in June 1996 to build a new facility but shelved it during the merger discussions. Now, he said, "we are seriously considering opening a centralized facility without shutting down the existing facilities." The vacated facilities would be used for other services, such as mental health, rehabilitation and subacute care.
Even after paying debt service on a new facility, South Jersey would save $2 million to $3 million a year for the community, said Paul Cooper, the system's president and chief executive officer.
Studies commissioned by the system show a need for just 120 of the county's more than 600 acute-care beds by the year 2005. Building a new hospital would cost an estimated $40 million.