RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) and Saint Peter’s Healthcare System’s proposed integration has received the blessing of New Jersey regulators, a key step forward as the systems look to form what they describe as the state’s “first premier academic medical center,” according to a Monday announcement.
The organizations are now awaiting a final approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) before moving ahead with the deal.
“State approval now puts us on the cusp of being able to create New Jersey’s first multi-campus premier academic medical center that will draw top talent, increased research funding and more opportunities for groundbreaking clinical trials, while also enhancing specialized services and improving overall patient care,” Saint Peter’s President and CEO Leslie Hirsch said in a statement.
“New Jersey deserves to have a premier academic medical center of national distinction like many other states that will serve as a destination for patients from all walks of life to get lifesaving treatment for complex illnesses and as an anchor for medical innovation, educational opportunity and economic development,” Hirsch said.
The two health systems had signed a definitive agreement declaring their “intention to integrate” in late 2020.
The organizations said that in addition to increasing services and strengthening patient access, the premier academic medical center’s location in New Brunswick, New Jersey, would play a role in attracting more academic talent and research to nearby Rutgers University.
The systems’ announcement also cited affirmation from Superior Court Judge Lisa Vignuolo, who said when authorizing the transaction that the deal “will serve in the public interest and the public good.”
RWJBH is the larger of the pair, providing care to more than 3 million patients annually across 11 hospitals, four children’s hospitals and dozens of other centers. It’s already the largest academic health system in New Jersey thanks to a collaboration with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Schools to train over 1,000 medical residents and interns across RWJBH hospitals yearly.
Formed in 2007, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System is a Catholic organization headlined by the 478-bed Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick. It also operates a children’s hospital, primary and specialty care networks and a surgical center.
Under the previously announced terms of the agreement, Saint Peter’s would remain a full-service acute healthcare provider in New Jersey and continue to adhere to its Catholic healthcare mission. RWJBH would make significant strategic capital investments in St. Peter’s facilities, technology and innovation.
“This is a tremendous milestone in a years-long journey towards fulfilling our shared vision to bring transformative care to New Jersey,” RWJBH CEO Barry Ostrowsky said in a statement.
The beginning of the year already saw RWJBH officially acquire Trinitas Regional Medical Center, an Elizabeth, New Jersey-based Catholic teaching medical center.
Regulators’ green light for RWJBH’s moves contrasts with the recent opposition to Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood Health’s now-nixed merger plans. The FTC and half of the country’s state attorneys general fought the proposal due to concerns that it would remove competition and harm residents in New Jersey’s Bergen County.