Hackensack Meridian Health has grown into one of the two major health systems in the state by adding numerous hospitals in recent years.
Moving forward, part of its growth will come in a different way: ambulatory care centers.
CEO Bob Garrett said the system has plans to open five such centers in the coming years: in Eatontown, Clark, Clifton, Paramus and Hackensack.
The centers will be of different sizes — potentially ranging from 50,000 square feet to up to 300,000 square feet — and serve different purposes. For example, Paramus may have an emphasis on neurology, while the Hackensack location may specialize in women’s oncology.
Regardless of location, size or emphasis, Garrett said all fill a basic need of more care delivered close to home in a format that is growing in preference.
“When we studied where services are needed and where people want to utilize them — closer to home, so they didn’t have to come to, say, a hospital-based outpatient department — those locations popped up as really areas of need,” he said.
The need comes in many forms. Garrett said the locations often will be near major roadways, increasing access — or in areas where overall health care access is lacking. Garrett noted that the centers will not necessarily be near existing hospitals in the system, as they have in the past.
“I think you’ll start to see with these locations, and others that are being planned, that Hackensack Meridian will add a presence in areas of our state where we don’t necessarily have a hospital, but where we think there is a need for these types of services,” he said.
The services available will vary, depending on the needs in the locations.
Garrett said the larger centers may prove to be a one-stop shop for health care.
“In the larger model, they could include urgent care, ambulatory surgery, imaging, physical therapy, a whole variety of things,” he said. “They could be a mini-health center.”
And a mini-cancer center.
Garrett said the system’s highly regarded John Theurer Cancer Center, as well as its partnerships with NCI Georgetown Lombardi and Memorial Sloan Kettering, will enable Hackensack Meridian to bring more cancer care to the state.
“I foresee ambulatory cancer centers at several of these ambulatory care locations as time goes on, because I think we have something unique to offer to the community in terms of getting that world-class cancer treatment closer to people’s homes in the community,” he said.
While HMH has five such centers on the drawing board, Garrett said he foresees more coming in a post-pandemic world.
“This is another trend that certainly started before the pandemic, but there’s no doubt that it’s picked up steam because of the pandemic and because of people’s reluctance maybe to come into big hospital centers and wanting to receive these kinds of services,” he said. “Our goal is to provide them locally and in convenient locations.”
Reach Hackensack Meridian Health at: hackensackmeridianhealth.org or call 844-464-9355.
HMH’s upcoming ambulatory care offerings
A look at the five planned ambulatory care centers for Hackensack Meridian Health:
Center will be 50,000 square feet in a facility that was a former Barnes & Noble location. It is intended to have urgent care, primary care, physical therapy and some specialty services. It will open in 2023.
Center will be 80,000 square feet, located at the ON3 development on Route 3. It is intended to have a mix of services, included but not limited to urgent care, surgery, imaging and specialty care. It will open in 2023.
Center will be 50,000 square feet, located at Monmouth Plaza on Route 35. Its urgent care offering already is opened. This summer, it intends to offer a number of other services, including primary care, pediatrics and specialty care, physical and occupational therapy, labs and diagnostics
Center will be 300,000 square feet, with 60,000 square feet to be used for a women’s oncology center. It will replace the now-closed Stony Hill Inn on Polify Road, which will be knocked down and replaced. It will open in 2024 or later.
Center will be 80,000 square feet. It is intended to have urgent care physician offices, labs, diagnostics — with a focus on neurology. Project involves knocking down an existing building and putting up a new one. It will open in 2024 or later.