RWJBarnabas Health CEO Barry Ostrowsky sees the health care system’s new partnership with Rutgers University not only as a way to create the largest academic hospital network in the state but to create the premiere network of teaching hospitals in both New Jersey and the U.S.
The public-private partnership between the two entities will see RWJBarnabas investing $100 million initially and more than $1 billion over the next 20 years and, in addition, to build and operate a clinical and research building for the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, as well as a new ambulatory care center, both to be located in New Brunswick.
The facilities are expected to open in 2020. The initiative also involves allowing Rutgers Medical School students to perform their residencies at one of RWJ’s 15 hospitals, while encouraging them to stay and practice in New Jersey.
“This partnership will allow us to train more medical students at our existing hospitals,” he said. “There might be additional hospitals that join our network in the coming years that could become teaching hospitals as well, but that’s something I’ll talk about when the timing is appropriate.”
In the meantime, Ostrowsky said the new partnership cements RWJBarnabas’ position as one of the most comprehensive health care systems in the state.
“I think what this partnership does is it creates hard evidence that we are making a major commitment to have the best academics and medical research in the state,” he said. “This partnership will also help provide high quality care to those who live in the most vulnerable communities in the state, which is something that is very important to me.”
A group will be formed in coming months with a unified clinical mission that complements the standards of teaching and research under a CEO to be named.
Details of the ambitious initiative were given in a detailed in a July 24 conference call with media, with the highlights including:
• The recruitment of leading clinical and academic leaders and faculty to build and expand the enterprise;
• The recruitment of approximately 100 high-caliber principal investigators by Rutgers over 10 years to double the research portfolio;
• $10 million in financial support will be earmarked to encourage Rutgers medical students to remain in and provide care to residents of New Jersey;
• An appropriate balancing of the size of residency and fellowship programs across the state will be implemented to enhance education;
• More opportunities will be made available to train medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy and other health professional students in interprofessional clinical environments; and
• Access to clinical trials will be expanded, bringing new and promising treatments to New Jersey.
The partnership will also create a new 2,500-strong multispecialty group that includes the Rutgers Health Group consisting of about 1,000 Rutgers-employed professionals, and gives patients increased access to physicians, physician assistants, dentists, psychologists, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and behavioral health and addiction professionals. It will also incorporate existing work at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.
RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Health will remain separate organizations, each retaining their own respective employees. The two boards, however, will form a joint committee for strategic planning and oversight of the academic health system with equal representation from RWJBarnabas and Rutgers.
Rutgers and RWJBarnabas signed a letter of intent to form the new system last year. The two entities have been sharing research, especially involving Rutgers Cancer Institute, since then.
Said Rutgers president Robert Barchi: “Rutgers has a long-standing history of excellence in education, service and research. Through this partnership, we have formed the largest and most comprehensive academic health system in New Jersey and are well positioned to take our place as a national leader in patient care, health science discovery and innovation.”
Officials said patients will benefit from increased access to the system’s clinical innovation and research.
“This unparalleled enterprise will further our shared goal to grow research activities and expand clinical trials statewide,” added Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and executive vice president for health affairs at Rutgers University. “Becoming an integrated academic health system will enable us to expand our academic and research mission so we can better train tomorrow’s clinical workforce and quicken the pace of discovery for patients.”