New Jersey a hotbed for hospital consolidation

With major announcements from five North Jersey hospitals this week to sell or merge, the state is shaping up to be hotbed for consolidation activity, succumbing to a competitive marketplace.

Hackensack University Medical Center and its investment partner, LHP Hospital Group, will purchase Mountainside Hospital for $190 million, the Star-Ledger and Express-Times reported. The Ascension Health Care Network of St. Louis, Mo., the nation's largest Catholic hospital system, is in talks with St. Mary's Medical Center and St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center to create a new potential Catholic health system in New Jersey. St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network announced it is adding Warren Hospital.

And Christ Hospital is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after California-based Prime Healthcare Services on Wednesday withdrew its bid to purchase the community hospital, according to the Hudson Reporter. Christ Hospital loses $800,000 a month. Local officials have expressed concern in keeping Christ Hospital nonprofit and under local ownership, but Prime is concerned that bankruptcy filing will hurt the hospital and the community, it said yesterday.

Called a dizzying week for New Jersey hospitals, the Star-Ledger and Express-Times article noted, the recent discussions about consolidation and partnership are fueled by health reform and a "harsh marketplace," New Jersey Hospitals Association spokeswoman Kerry McKean Kelly said.

For more information:
- read the Star-Ledger and Express-Times article
- read the Hudson Reporter article
- here's the Prime press release

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