As Hackensack Meridian Health CEO, Garrett leads a health network with 17 hospitals, 500 patient care locations, 36,000 team members and 7,000 physicians — but maintains an entrepreneurial outlook that keeps the organization nimble. Under his leadership, the network played a major role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including treating more patients than any other in New Jersey and developing major breakthroughs like the state’s first rapid COVID-19 test, reducing wait time from days to hours, and developing clinical trials for COVID- 19 therapies and vaccines.
During his tenure, Hackensack Meridian Health took a system-wide approach in response to the pandemic, fast-tracking a telehealth program that resulted in a 700% increase in telehealth visits, and expanding ICU space by 20% in every hospital.
The innovations continue: earlier this year, the network opened the first phase of Retreat & Recovery at Ramapo Valley, a state-of-the art destination treatment center in Mahwah that will offer a full range of behavioral health services on the 40-acre campus.
The network’s care model focuses on the integration of traditional therapy, evidence-based practice and integrative medicine. It also targets care enhancement in underserved communities with initiatives — like a partnership establishing a joint operating model for oncology between St. Joseph’s Health and Hackensack Meridian Health in Paterson, and two other underserved communities in northern New Jersey — that will expand access to specialists, greatly enhancing women’s health care, radiology and outpatient care.
While Hackensack Meridian’s merger with Englewood Health foundered in the courts, Garrett told NJBIZ that dealmaking remains a part of the system’s business strategy. “[O]bviously the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice and other regulatory agencies are looking at these transactions very, very closely. And they’re looking at them even more closely going forward,” Garrett said. “So there’s other structures that potentially could work that you can grow, you can consolidate, you can provide new programs and services to communities.
They might be joint ventures, they might be affiliation partnerships.” He cited the arrangement with St. Joseph’s as a potential model.