Raritan Bay, Meridian plan merger

Staff Writer

 Raritan Bay Medical Center and Meridian Health are seeking to merge following a review of financial, clinical and legal issues. Raritan Bay Medical Center and Meridian Health are seeking to merge following a review of financial, clinical and legal issues. Two major health organizations in central New Jersey have decided to join forces in an effort to enhance services and control costs.

Meridian Health and Raritan Bay Medical Center announced Sept. 24 the signing of a letter of intent between the organizations to explore a merger, according to a press release from Meridian Health.

Meridian Health President John K. Lloyd said one of the reasons for the anticipated merger is the difficult times that health care facilities have been facing in recent years. “This is a challenging time for health care organizations, and forward-thinking organizations are always looking for partners who want to enhance patient care and experience and improve the health of our communities, all while achieving needed efficiencies. We see that fit with Raritan Bay,” Lloyd said.

Raritan Bay Medical Center President and CEO Michael R. D’Agnes said health care organizations need to keep up with the constantly changing industry. “Health care delivery as a whole is evolving in the United States and in New Jersey, making it necessary to partner with larger health care systems, and currently 75 percent of New Jersey hospitals are part of a health care system,” D’Agnes said.

With the merger, Raritan Bay will use the resources of Meridian Health to enhance patient care, according to D’Agnes. In addition, the merger will decrease costs through shared efficiencies and purchasing opportunities.

“With this merge, access to capital for Raritan Bay Medical Center will now exist,” D’Agnes said.

Meridian Health is a nonprofit organization comprised of Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin and Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel.

Raritan Bay Medical Center has hospitals in Old Bridge and Perth Amboy. In 2013, the hospital had 14,041 admissions and more than 100,000 outpatient visits, according to Eric Muench, public relations and corporate communications manager for Raritan Bay.

Both health care facilities provide a variety of services to their patients. Meridian Health offers home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, as well as ambulance services, a fitness center and outpatient centers.

D’Agnes said officials of the two organizations are still working out the details, and it is too soon to say what new services may be provided to patients.

“It is too soon to determine whether or not we will have new facilities provided to our patients; however, providing new services to meet the health care needs of the community is an intent that we have in mind making this merge,” D’Agnes said.

Lloyd said the merger will be helpful to patients in many areas of central New Jersey.

“We are very excited about this opportunity with Raritan Bay Medical Center. While Meridian Health serves primarily Monmouth and Ocean counties and parts of Middlesex County, Raritan Bay services Middlesex County and parts of northern Monmouth County. Our neighboring geography will allow us to give residents in those areas more choices for accessing care and tertiary services,” Lloyd said.

D’Agnes said hospital officials are optimistic about the future of the combined organization and believe they can provide better and expanded services to patients.

“From our charitable missions and Magnet recognized nurses to our commitment to services in cardiovascular, stroke, cancer and orthopedics, our health systems share similar interests and cultures. We are optimistic about the good things that could happen for our communities from this proposed partnership,” D’Agnes said.

Magnet is a program through which the American Nurses Credentialing Center recognizes excellence in nursing.

Meridian Health and Raritan Bay Medical Center have worked together previously on some patient services, according to D’Agnes. The two organizations participated in group purchases for services such as Raritan Bay’s cardiac catheterization laboratory.

As they move forward with the merger in the months ahead, Meridian Health and Raritan Bay Medical Center will collaborate on a review of financial, clinical and legal issues, according to the press release. The examination of these issues is expected to take approximately four months. The examination is expected to be followed by an agreement and regulatory review of the merger.