It’s official … finally: Trinitas joins RWJBarnabas Health system

In a move that should substantially improve care at Trinitas Regional Medical Center — already one of the leading safety-net hospitals in the state — the Elizabeth-based hospital joined RWJBarnabas Health on Thursday.

The merger, which became official Jan. 1, has been in the works for years.

The leaders of both organizations feel it will increase access to high-quality health care in the northern and central New Jersey regions and expand outreach to underserved communities.

This includes a specific focus on cardiac care, oncology, emergency services, renal care/dialysis, women’s health and wound care, as well as behavioral health services and others.

It also includes an approximate $270 million capital commitment.

In addition, the two organizations share an academic commitment. RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers University serve as the premier academic health system for the state. Trinitas serves as a regional leader in training nurses through the Trinitas School of Nursing, which offers a cooperative education program with Union County College.

Marc Berson, chair of the RWJBarnabas Health board of trustees, said the key to the merger will be allowing the heads of Trinitas — most notably CEO Gary Horan — to continue to do the things they have done to help make the hospital what it is: a leader in the community.

“The RWJBarnabas Health board believes it is vital that Trinitas continue to be led by local leaders in this community,” Berson said. “These leaders know the local community and have institutional knowledge that will help all of us make decisions that are best for those we serve.”

Victor Richel, chair of the Trinitas Regional Medical Center board of trustees, will remain in that role and also will serve on the parent board of RWJBarnabas Health.

RWJBarnabas Health leaders said the communities served by Trinitas can expect:

  • Expanded clinical services and strategic investments to ensure that Trinitas remains the trusted safety-net provider in the region;
  • Improved outcomes for diverse patient populations;
  • Increased access to RWJBarnabas Health’s world-class research and academic expertise;
  • Enhanced ability to attract, retain and train the finest health care experts;
  • Sharpened focus on community and mission-based programs that help serve local communities, particularly those in need.

RWJBarnabas Health CEO Barry Ostrowsky broke down the benefits for a hospital that serves not only Elizabeth and Union County, but surrounding areas.

“When we sat down to negotiate that merger, we looked at the strategic needs of Trinitas from the perspective of the region that it serves — and what we determined is that we needed to get more ambulatory venues built and operational,” he said.

He said the main campus at Trinitas also needs investment in technology (it will join the EPIC platform for digital records) as well as other facility investments to increase its programs and access to RWJBarnbas clinical service lines.

Ostrowsky cautioned the upgrades will not happen overnight — but a sense of belonging will.

“With the addition of Trinitas Regional Medical Center, our commitment to clinical quality, academic excellence and leading-edge research will be enhanced,” he said. “Each organization has long histories of delivering health care to urban and underserved communities, and, together, we shall make New Jersey an even better place to live.”

Ostrowsky also stressed that RWJBarnbas has taken measures to ensure Trinitas will retain its Catholic identity, something he also has pledged to do with the system’s pending relationship with Saint Peter’s Health Care.

“It’s not difficult to maintain a Catholic hospital, within a non-Catholic system, provided, of course, you don’t impose any policies or procedures that otherwise contravenes (the ethical and religious directives of the church); the obvious ones with respect to family planning, or even gender surgery, is not a problem — we wouldn’t do them there, we wouldn’t seek to do them there.

“So, maintaining it as a Catholic institution is not only a commitment of ours, but candidly supports the culture that it maintains already, and the connection with its community. It will be easy, because it’s not difficult. We’ve set up structures in order to assure those who had general oversight of the Catholic nature of the hospitals that we will be in compliance as we go forward.”

Horan said he is eager to get started.

“Our chief goal is to provide excellent care for our community,” he said. “Being the newest member of the RWJBarnabas Health family gives us the resources and opportunities to enhance the already high level of care we provide.”