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Thursday, January 5, 2012 - South Jersey Health System, Inc. and Underwood-Memorial Health System, Inc. Sign Merger Agreement

VINELAND, NJ (January 5) – South Jersey Health System, Inc. (SJHS), the parent of the South Jersey Healthcare organization, and Underwood-Memorial Health Systems, Inc. (UMHS), the parent of Underwood-Memorial Hospital and its affiliated organizations, announced today that they have signed a definitive merger agreement that will be submitted to the state and federal governments for approval. The organizations expect to receive final approval for a merger this spring.

“There is no doubt that health care reform is creating an environment in which partnerships and alliances can be even more beneficial to health systems and the communities they serve,” said Michael McLaughlin, Chair of the Underwood Memorial Health System Board of Directors. “With significant reductions in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements expected in the coming years, this merger will better position our organizations to not only meet these fiscal challenges, but to continue to grow.”

SJHS and UMHS agreed to begin merger talks between the organizations last May to address how the health systems might work together to remain strong and provide the best possible care in the region. By incorporating best practices from each organization, both entities are working toward facilitating a system-wide standard of care that can more efficiently and effectively provide patient-focused health care.

“This is a merger—not a limited venture, takeover or acquisition,” said Peter Galetto, Chairman of the South Jersey Health System, Inc. Board. “Our vision is to build upon the strengths of both organizations to create new opportunities for all the communities we serve. This merger will help both organizations to continue our mission of providing the best possible health care for patients in Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem counties, long into the future.”

The merger provides both SJHS and UMHS with several growth opportunities including the ability to:

  • collaborate and enhance key service lines such as cardiovascular, oncology, women’s health, and surgical care;
  • develop outpatient care sites in an expanded service area;
  • build stronger relationships with government agencies with respect to public funding initiatives and public policy affecting health care services in our region;
  • give patients access to an expanded local network of providers offering high quality care in a cost effective manner;
  • and provide more seamless, efficient and effective care over a broader region through the development of combined quality and safety efforts, financial performance and staff development.

While SJHS and UMHS wait for approval of the merger, both organizations will continue to operate independently without any impact on jobs or the individual hospitals’ policies and practices.

As outlined in the agreement, representatives from both the SJHS and UMHS Boards of Trustees will hold seats on a newly formed System Board. Both organizations will also retain Hospital Boards of Trustees that will provide leadership for their individual hospitals.

About South Jersey Health System, Inc.
South Jersey Health System, Inc. is a charitable nonprofit health care organization that has served the citizens of Southern New Jersey for more than 18 years, but traces its roots to 1898 when the original Bridgeton Hospital was founded. As it has grown during the last two decades, SJH has become one of the region’s premier health care systems with more than 3,500 employees and a Medical Staff of more than 600 physicians. It includes the SJH Regional Medical Center, a 262-bed facility in Vineland; SJH Elmer Hospital, a 96-bed hospital in Elmer; the SJH Bridgeton Health Center that houses 65 mental health and inpatient hospice beds; and numerous outpatient sites throughout Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester and Atlantic Counties.

SJH has a strong history of growth and in the last 20 years consolidated four community hospitals in Cumberland and Salem counties into a strong health system. The system is committed to providing exceptional care, introducing the latest technologies and expanding our facilities to meet the needs of our communities. By focusing on growth and clinical and service excellence, SJHS has positioned itself as one of the most financially strong health systems in the state.

Its recent expansions include a comprehensive cancer center and neonatal intensive care unit at the Regional Medical Center in Vineland, a newly renovated ER at Elmer Hospital, and SJHS Tomlin Station Park, an outpatient center in Mullica Hill. SJHS is also now a teaching institution that recently welcomed medical residents in four disciplines, with several other programs opening in the near future.

About Underwood-Memorial Hospital
Underwood-Memorial Hospital is a 305-bed, not-for-profit acute care hospital located in Woodbury, NJ.  UMHS was incorporated in 1966, following the merger of independent facilities–Underwood Hospital, founded in 1915, and Memorial Hospital, founded in 1919.

The hospital’s size and services have steadily and purposely expanded to establish UMHS as the healthcare market leader to more than 250,000 Gloucester County residents. With nearly 1,700 full and part-time employees and a medical staff of almost 400, Underwood serves the community’s spectrum of healthcare needs—primary care, emergent, and specialty services. 

The Family Health Centers are conveniently located in Glassboro, Mullica Hill, Paulsboro, and Mullica Hill.  Two years ago, the hospital launched the Women’s Health Center in Mullica Hill and completed a major expansion to the Emergency Department, which cared for close to 60,000 patients in 2011.  For over 20 years, the UMHS Mobile Intensive Care Units have provided advanced life support to the residents of Gloucester, Cumberland, and Salem counties.

In 2009, Underwood’s cardiac catheterization lab and cardiologists were approved to be one of the region’s only sources of percutaneous coronary intervention, the accelerated treatment for heart attack patients.  In 2010, the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services designated Underwood as a primary stroke center.