Jefferson — with presence in South Jersey — and Lehigh Valley Health announced plans to merge  

Jefferson Health and Lehigh Valley Health Network on Wednesday announced plans to merge. If all goes according to plan, the new health system will be among the 25 largest in the country.

The merged systems will include a national research university, as well as 30 hospitals, more than 700 outpatient sites and more than 62,000 employed faculty, clinicians and staff across eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

Jefferson operates three New Jersey acute care hospitals: in Cherry Hill, Stratford and Washington Township.

“The health care landscape and our communities’ needs are changing; it is critical leading systems evolve and make investments in the future of care and wellness — growing and protecting access to enhanced, affordable, high-quality and innovative care, particularly for historically underserved patients,” Dr Joseph Cacchione, CEO of Jefferson, said. “Combining Jefferson’s and LVHN’s resources will allow us to meet the changing needs of our diverse communities faster, more efficiently and more effectively. Together — with our combined network of resources and sites of care, managed care expertise, education and research capabilities — we will have the ability to make significant improvements to health outcomes and address health disparities in this region, and beyond, to the benefit our communities, patients, physicians, faculty, staff, students and health plan members.”

“We are thrilled to be combining with Jefferson and excited about the immediate and long-term benefits this combination will create for the communities of the Lehigh Valley and Eastern Pennsylvania,” Brian Nester, CEO and president of Lehigh Valley Health Network, said. “In Jefferson, we have found an ideal partner that shares our culture and commitment to excellence in clinical care and a learning environment, and that has done a fabulous job in establishing a highly successful health plan with a sharp focus on the well-being of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries. The expertise derived from these operations is becoming a crucial competency for health systems to deliver on their mission, and Jefferson health plans will help drive improvements in health outcomes, especially in vulnerable populations. We are also very excited about the opportunity to expand academic and talent development programs that will further bolster our provider pipeline and enhance our ability to attract and retain top talent to the benefit of the communities we both serve.”

Upon the closing of the transaction, Jefferson’s Cacchione will continue to serve as CEO of the Jefferson enterprise. LVHN’s Nester will serve as executive vice president/chief operating officer and president of the legacy Lehigh Valley Health Network, reporting directly to Cacchione.