New Jersey's Hackensack Meridian Health and JFK Health said Thursday that they have taken the first steps towards merging their organizations, touting their joint focus on population health.
The health system and not-for-profit hospital have signed a letter of intent and say the proposed affiliation will boost JFK Health's clinical services and expand patient access in Edison, N.J. If the merger goes through, Hackensack Meridian will have 15 hospitals and more than 150 facilities under its wing, including JFK Health's acute-care hospital and a nationally renowned rehabilitation hospital.
“The biggest beneficiary of this merger, this partnership will be the community that we serve,” said Bob Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian. “We're going to be making investments in the community. We're going to offer new clinical programs and expand existing ones.”
According to JFK Health's president and CEO Ray Fredericks, the health system has been looking for a potential partner for a year. “Looking at where healthcare is going, the board decided it would be best for the community we serve and the organization that we be a part of a larger system,” he said.
After months of measured deliberations, Fredericks said the board ultimately landed on Hackensack Meridian as the best partner, thanks to the newly merged health system's commitment to population health and community healthcare.
“We align so well with Hackensack Meridian,” he said. “It was a difficult choice, but this was the best choice for JFK.”
Hackensack Meridian Health is the product of a recent merger of Hackensack University Health Network and Meridian Health, which has approximately 28,000 employees. The health system also plans to launch a medical school affiliated with Seton Hall in 2018. According to Garrett, the JFK union will also benefit the nascent medical school, as students will be able to rotate through JFK facilities as part of their education.
It's still early in the merger process, and Hackensack Meridian Health co-CEO John Lloyd said the health systems haven't hammered out the financial terms of the agreement as of yet. But Hackensack Meridian is committed to investing in JFK's facilities.
“We invest in all of our hospitals,” Lloyd said. “We will invest money in JFK.”