Cooper University Health, Cape Regional Health sign LOI to merge

Merger, which aims to be complete in Q1 2024, would create system with 900 licensed beds, 10,000 team members and annual revenues of more than $2.2B

Cooper University Health Care and Cape Regional Health System announced that the two systems have signed a Letter of Intent to merge.

When complete, the partnership will bring together two highly regarded health systems, expanding access to specialty health services to residents and visitors of Cape May County.

The signing of the Letter of Intent is the first step in a lengthy process. Cooper and Cape Regional will be working toward signing a Definitive Agreement in March 2023. Thereafter, the health systems will seek regulatory approval for the merger, which could take until the first quarter of 2024.

When completed, the combined health system would have:

  • Two hospitals, with more than 900 licensed beds;
  • Revenue exceeding $2.2 billion annually;
  • More than 10,000 team members;
  • More than 900 employed physicians in three physician groups;
  • More than 450 advanced practice providers;
  • 130-plus ambulatory locations across eight counties;
  • Six urgent care centers.

George Norcross III, chairman of Cooper University Health Care’s board of trustees, said the merger matches the mission and vision of the system.

“For more than 135 years, Cooper has continued to expand its reach to provide advanced health care to the people of South Jersey,” he said. “This merger of two trusted health care organizations will benefit tens of thousands of residents and visitors to Cape May County and strengthen the overall health care system in South Jersey.”

Garry Gilbert, chairman of the Cape Regional Health System board of trustees, said the merger makes sense in a variety of ways.

“As it becomes more and more challenging for smaller health systems to operate independently, merging with Cooper made the most sense, as we share the same commitment to the communities we serve and to providing the highest quality care to our patients,” he said.

Camden-based Cooper, with its market-leading MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, is southern New Jersey’s only academic health system and Level I trauma center, with $2 billion in revenue.

Cape Regional Health System has earned the Gold Seal of Approval from the Joint Commission and is an integrated health care delivery system serving the residents throughout Cape May County.

Cooper co-CEO Kevin O’Dowd said the system is eager to partner.

“Cooper is incredibly honored to be given an opportunity to partner with the nearly 1,500 Cape Regional team members who have built a distinguished health system of high-quality clinical outcomes and commitment to their community,” he said. “We look forward to working with our future colleagues at Cape Regional to build upon this tremendous legacy of service to residents of the Cape May region.”

Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli, co-CEO of Cooper, agreed.

“By expanding our current working relationship with the Cape Regional team, we will be able to bring additional advanced cancer and specialty health care services to local residents close to where they live,” he said.

The announcement of the intent to merge caps an incredibly strong year for Cooper.

Earlier this fall, O’Dowd and Mazzarelli were the No. 1 selection on the 2022 ROI Influencers: Health Care list.

Cape Regional Health System CEO Joanne Carrocino said she is eager to build on an already-existing relationship with Cooper.

“Cape Regional and Cooper have had a strong working relationship for many years, as Cooper has staffed our Intensive Care Unit with fellowship-trained Intensivist physicians, as well as provided tele-ICU, tele-stroke and tele-neurology services that have truly enhanced the quality of care for our community,” she said.