WEST ORANGE, NJ — Saint Peter’s Healthcare System in New Brunswick and RWJBarnabas Health, headquartered in West Orange, signed a definitive agreement Sept. 10, outlining their intention to integrate the two health care systems. The announcement comes less than a year after Saint Peter’s and RWJBH signed a letter of intent to explore a strategic partnership. This announcement also culminates a three-year discernment process at Saint Peter’s that included a request for proposal in October 2018 seeking a strategic partner best suited to help the organization maintain its Catholic mission and identity in an increasingly changing and competitive health care market.
“After careful consideration by Saint Peter’s board of governors, senior leadership and the Most Rev. James F. Checchio, bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen and sole corporate member of Saint Peter’s, we have signed a definitive agreement to integrate with RWJBarnabas Health that assures Saint Peter’s continued mission and identity as a Catholic hospital,” Saint Peter’s President and CEO Leslie Hirsch said.
Under the terms of the definitive agreement, Saint Peter’s — with its flagship hospital, Saint Peter’s University Hospital, a 478-bed acute-care teaching hospital and acute care children’s hospital — would remain as a full-service provider of acute health care services serving New Jersey and the region, and would continue its longstanding mission and identity as a Catholic hospital in adherence with the standards of care articulated in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. In addition, RWJBH has committed to making significant strategic capital investments in facilities, technology and innovation to enhance and expand the clinical services provided at Saint Peter’s.
“RWJBH has a rich history of providing high quality care to the residents of New Jersey — with our Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital campuses in New Brunswick and Somerville, as well as our Rutgers partners at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, to name but a few — and the inclusion of Saint Peter’s will allow us to only build upon this legacy of service,” RWJBarnabas Health President and CEO Barry Ostrowsky said. “When finalized, we will have the necessary foundation for the creation of our state’s first and only premier academic medical center.”
With the signing of this definitive agreement, the proposed partnership will begin a period of review by various state and federal regulatory agencies. Approval by the Catholic Church will also be required.
“Flowing from our Catholic teaching regarding the God-given dignity of each and every human person, and striving to make ever more manifest Christ’s compassionate care for all, especially for those who are most vulnerable, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System has ministered to the sick of the New Brunswick area and beyond for the past 113 years,” Checchio said. “I believe that the definitive and Catholic identity agreements that we enter into with RWJBarnabas Health will give Saint Peter’s renewed strength and broader resources to continue and expand our sacred mission based on the teachings of Christ and His Church. Catholic health care in Central New Jersey is needed in our day. Our connection with the RWJBarnabas Health System is intended to bolster our ability to provide this Christ-inspired, human person-centered health care to the individuals and communities that we are so honored to serve, protecting and promoting the lives of all. We seek to bring all the medical science and the compassionate love that Christ mandated to every woman, man and child entrusted to our care.”
The bishop further acknowledged the efforts of the Saint Peter’s staff and all those who assisted in arriving at these agreements, singling out especially John Haas, president emeritus and senior fellow of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, Pa. Haas was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, and made his time and expertise available to ensure that the Catholic Church’s teachings were enshrined in and protected by these agreements.