RWJBarnabas Health and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Thursday signed a letter of intent to form a strategic alliance that would establish a pediatric health care delivery system serving central and northern New Jersey.According to a news release issued by the two health systems, the alliance would improve access, delivery, quality and efficiency of pediatric health services in Central and North Jersey, creating the “most comprehensive” pediatric health network in the region.
“RWJBarnabas Health is tremendously excited about the potential alliance with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” Barry H. Ostrowsky, RWJBarnabas’ CEO and president, said in a prepared statement. “Combining our three highly recognized children’s hospitals, pediatric rehabilitation hospital and outpatient pediatric services with the outstanding reputation for excellence of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will bring the very finest pediatric care to families in the entire region.”
Ostrowsky told NJBIZ in an interview that, in central and northern New Jersey, CHOP will serve as an affiliate of RWJBarnabas, but its existing relationships in South Jersey, such as with Virtua Health, may remain untouched. That will all be sorted out in the terms of the alliance, for which discussions began about six months ago.
“We may agree to allow them to continue certain other relationships, but we haven’t specified which and how many,” he said. “As much as this sounds hokey, this is about furnishing New Jersey with better pediatric care. I wouldn’t want, for the sake of the ego of the deal, to shut out a community.”
The partnership is an equal one, including financially, he said.
The move is the largest and most significant relationship RWJBarnabas has made with an out-of-state entity to-date.
The catalyst was the merger of RWJBarnabas, as well as analyzing a need for more pediatric care in an outpatient setting, Ostrowsky said.
The goal is to develop a joint program to deliver pediatric care in the region, including best practices, access to specialists trained under CHOP and other clinical services.
But Ostrowsky hinted at potentially growing a physical footprint.
“It’ll start with a joint strategic study and how we use our joint skills, and then we will decide which locations, if any, will need to be built to meet our need,” he said.
RWJBarnabas and CHOP said the proposed affiliation would serve pediatric inpatients, outpatients and ambulatory patients, supporting the health care, education and research missions of both systems.
“Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and RWJBarnabas Health are two prestigious health care providers whose philosophy of care focuses on the delivery of world-class clinical services as close to the patient’s home as possible,” Madeline Bell, CEO and president of CHOP, said in a statement. “This approach to pediatric care would benefit thousands of families in the area, and we are delighted to explore this new alliance.”
A formal partnership agreement is expected to be crafted “in the near future,” the release said.