Atlantic Health, Saint Peter’s Healthcare sign letter of intent to form partnership

Atlantic Health System and Saint Peter’s Healthcare System in New Brunswick have signed a letter of intent to create a strategic partnership, ROI-NJ has learned.

The letter of intent puts the institutions on a path toward reaching a definitive agreement within the coming months to fully integrate the two organizations.

Under the terms of the LOI, expected to be formally announced later Wednesday, Atlantic Health System will make significant investments in Saint Peter’s, helping it to continue to evolve as a high-quality and comprehensive health care system serving communities throughout central New Jersey.

The two systems will work collaboratively to create significant synergies, including transitioning Saint Peter’s onto Atlantic Health System’s electronic medical record system.

The partnership will require numerous regulatory approvals from state and federal officials, as is always the case when health systems are involved. And, while it is too soon to speculate on a closing date, there is some hope that a final agreement could be in place by the end of 2025.

Should the move go through — and there’s no early concern to suggest it would not — it would provide the valued partner Saint Peter’s has long been searching for.

The strategic partnership also would allow Saint Peter’s to maintain its Catholic mission and continue to abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services — something that has been of the utmost importance to the health system as it searched for a partner.

The Catholic Church will have to give a final approval.

Working toward these approvals already is underway. Both organizations have been in discussions for some time and are aligned with a patient-centric perspective focused on high-quality, cost-effective services to their communities and their missions.

The partnership would expand upon the systems’ existing relationship in the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, designed to provide broader and more affordable health insurance to employees across New Jersey.

The strategic partnership also will significantly upgrade Atlantic Health’s reach and impact in the state.

Atlantic Health, based primarily in Morris County, with Morristown Medical Center being its flagship hospital, has been aggressively looking for ways to increase its footprint in recent years.

The system gained controlling interest in Freehold-based CentraState HealthCare in 2021. Adding Saint Peter’s will give it acute care hospitals in six counties (Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Sussex, Union and Warren).

Saint Peter’s has long been looking for a partner. An attempt to merge with RWJBarnabas Health, in 2022, was blocked by the Federal Trade Commission, which cited RWJBH’s already strong presence in New Brunswick.

Saint Peter’s has long been regarded as one of the very top hospitals in the state for maternity care. It also rates highly for nursing and as a Best Place to Work. Such accolades will fit nicely with Atlantic, which features Morristown Medical Center (one of the two top hospitals in the state for the past decade) and Overlook Medical Center in Summit, annually rated as one of the state’s Top 5 facilities.

Atlantic Health is the third-largest health system in the state, with more than 20,000 team members and nearly 5,500 affiliated physicians. It annually wins top honors for care and as a Best Place to Work.

When you include Atlantic’s 12 urgent care centers and its Rehabilitation Institute, the system already serves nearly 7.5 million people — or more than three-quarters of the state. The not-for-profit system has more than 550 sites of care.

Both organizations will now engage in a due diligence process, working toward a definitive agreement.