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Meridian Health, Raritan Bay finalize merger

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From left are John K. Lloyd, president of Meridian Health, and Michael R. D'Agnes, president of Raritan Bay.
From left are John K. Lloyd, president of Meridian Health, and Michael R. D'Agnes, president of Raritan Bay. - ()

A definitive merger agreement was announced Tuesday by Meridian Health and Raritan Bay Medical Center, but it's only the first stage in the major transformation of New Jersey's health care.

Meridian and Hackensack University Health Network are in the midst of merging into the state’s largest health care system, and they are launching a new medical school in partnership with Seton Hall University.

John K. Lloyd, president of Meridian Health, said the Raritan Bay merger will likely be completed by the end of this year. Also, the creation of Hackensack Meridian Health, which will be the state's largest health system with roughly $3.44 billion in annual revenue, will happen in early 2016. Both deals require state approval.

Hackensack Meridian Health would have about a dozen hospitals, more than 100 outpatient facilities and serve a geographic area between 3 million and 4 million people, Lloyd said.

Michael R. D’Agnes, president of Raritan Bay Medical Center, said Raritan faced a “very cloudy future” without a merger partner like Meridian. He said on its own, Raritan Bay, which has hospitals in Perth Amboy and Old Bridge, lacked the resources to compete in this new health care arena focused on population health. Health care systems increasingly are expected to find ways to elevate the health of the population they serve through preventive care and better care coordination, and to deliver that care more efficiently will require more outpatient services and fewer and shorter hospital stays.

It is an environment that demands substantial financial investment in technology, people and processes, D’Agnes said.

 D’Agnes said merging with Meridian “gives us the access to capital to continue to grow our facilities and our services at both hospitals.”

The new medical school is targeting its first class for the fall 2017 semester, and will be located on the former Nutley campus of drugmaker Hoffmann-LaRoche.

Lloyd said of the medical school “will greatly enhance what we do in the clinical arena.” He pointed out that Meridian, Raritan and Hackensack now train medical students, residents and nurses.

“What this does is give us an opportunity to have some say in the education of medical students,” Lloyd said. “One thing we believe in very strongly is that there ought to be more interdisciplinary education among medical students and allied health” professions.

There will be allied health programs on the campus of the new medical school, “so it’s a great opportunity for us to have that kind of integrated learning together,” he said.

He said the hope also is that the new medical school will increase the number of doctors who choose to stay in New Jersey after completing their residency; New Jersey currently losses many  of them to other states.

“We’re looking at this as a positive for everyone,” Lloyd said.

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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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