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Ambulatory, cardiac specialties led Virtua to Lourdes

Dennis Pullin, president and CEO, Virtua Health.
Dennis Pullin, president and CEO, Virtua Health. - ()

Through its acquisition of Lourdes Health System, Virtua Health — the state’s third-largest health system — will have the ability to expand its footprint into the primary and specialty care spaces.

Virtua announced June 5 it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Lourdes from Michigan-based Trinity Health Group. No financial terms were divulged.

The past several months have been tumultuous for Lourdes, which originally signed a letter of intent to be acquired by Cooper University Healthcare late last year, only to see Cooper back out of the deal in December. The failed transaction subsequently resulted in a lawsuit in which Cooper sought a refund of the $15 million deposit it had made as part of the LOI.

The suit is ongoing, but for Virtua CEO Dennis Pullin the addition of Lourdes “could not be a better pairing.”

Virtua signed its own letter of intent to acquire Lourdes in January.

Virtua will absorb Lourdes’ South Jersey hospitals and other facilities will become part of Virtua’s network. They include the 325-bed Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center; Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County, which has 173 beds; and Lourdes Medical Associates, which encompasses 68 primary and specialty practices in Southern New Jersey.

The acquisition also adds Lourdes Cardiology Service, which has five offices in South Jersey and three heart center locations.

Pullin said in a recent interview that cardiology is one of the areas that Virtua was seeking to grow in as part of its efforts to expand its continuum of care.

“Virtua has been, from a quality perspective, one of the better health systems in the region,” he said. “So we’ve made a decision to expand our footprint by looking at those service offerings that we don’t have at the level on which we’d like to have and the ones that they excel at. The acquisition really presents us with an opportunity to expand our clinical services as well as our geographic foot print. So this acquisition made sense and in the end, I think we’re going to be a better organization for it.

“By combining, I think we’re going to be a stronger organization geographically and with an expanded physician portfolio.”

Dennis Pullin, president and CEO, Virtua Health

One of the biggest advantages for Virtua, Pullin said, is its cardiac services.

“From a complementary perspective, the one thing that [Lourdes] has that we don’t and others in the region don’t is its cardiac services,” he said. “If you look at Lourdes as a system, it’s a fairly robust system in terms of the things they do they do really well.

“But like Virtua, they are limited in certain clinical services. So by combining, I think we’re going to be a stronger organization geographically and with an expanded physician portfolio. Those things will make us a better organization.”

Earlier this year, Virtua expanded its relationship with Penn Medicine to expand its cancer care and neurosurgery capabilities. Currently, Virtua is working with Penn to establish a proton therapy center that will provide the full spectrum of radiation therapy. It also is building a $38 million cancer center in Moorestown.

The Lourdes acquisition adds roughly 600 primary and multispecialty physicians to Virtua’s roster.

Lourdes also brings behavioral health specialists to Virtua, another area it is seeking to strengthen and pair with its primary care doctors.

Some of Lourdes’ doctors could end up joining the $22 million, 34,500-square-foot Family Health Center in Camden, which will be a multispecialty ambulatory site with a free-standing emergency department and mental health and wellness services that is expected to be completed in the fall.

“We have a community commitment to the most vulnerable communities such as Camden,” Pullin said. “That’s in addition to what we’re doing in the area of behavioral health, which we know is a tremendous community need. We had an acute care hospital in Berlin that we have repurposed to focus on behavioral health. We’re implementing a detox, outpatient and partial hospitalization program there.”

Some of Lourdes Medical Center’s facilities could complement Virtua’s efforts to expand its number of one-room surgical centers, as well as its ambulatory care services. Pullin said over half of Virtua’s revenue last year came from its ambulatory care system.

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