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Hackensack, Palisades searching for ways to improve partnership

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    The clinical affiliation launched in 2012 between the Hackensack University Health Network and North Bergen's Palisades Medical Center will continue, as Hackensack and Palisades explore new ways to work together.

    Both boards passed a resolution to strengthen the partnership, said Robert C. Garrett, chief executive of Hackensack.

    Garrett said Palisades "is a very good, solid community hospital" and new details about their extended affiliation will be announced over the next few weeks.

    Bruce J. Markowitz, CEO of Palisades, said that over the past two years, the partnership has enabled Palisades to better coordinate care between his local Hudson County community hospital and Hackensack "to provide more of a continuum of services to our community."

    The relationship is a two-way street that has strengthened Palisades. "It has enabled us to expand the scope of services at Palisades" in areas like specialized care of newborns, vascular surgery and neurosurgery, Markowitz said. It also facilitates the transfer of patients to Hackensack for services that Palisades does not offer, such as invasive cardiac procedures and complex neurosurgical cases.

    "It has been a really positive relationship," Markowitz said.

    Markowitz said the two institutions have realized there are a number of positive and significant things that came out of the first two years. "We have decided to explore whether there are opportunities for us to work together in a more coordinated way to serve our community."

    For example, Palisades does not currently have an accountable care organization. Created by the Affordable Care Act, ACOs bring doctors and hospitals together to deliver more efficient care and the medical community shares in the savings that result. Markowitz said one possibility might be for Palisades to explore joining Hackensack's ACO, which has already yielded millions of dollar in savings for Medicare.

    More than 70 percent of Palisades' revenue comes from government payers such as Medicare and Medicaid.

    "So we would stand to benefit from the whole ACO concept," he said.

    Going forward, he said the partnership will look into different ways to better position itself for the transformation to the new health care markets that are being driven in part by national health care reform under the ACA.

    Garrett declined to comment on whether the affiliation could result in a merger, but Markowitz said the two institutions are not engaging in merger talks.

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    Beth Fitzgerald

    Beth Fitzgerald

    Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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