Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 28, 2009
Contact : Michael Valentino  

Meridian Health and Southern Ocean County Health System Approve Merger Agreement


Neptune, NJ - The boards of trustees of Meridian Health and Southern Ocean County Health System (SOCH) have approved a definitive agreement for the Manahawkin-based hospital and health system to join the Meridian Health system. The agreement follows nearly five months of due diligence to review the benefits of such a partnership by examining clinical, service, regulatory, financial, and legal issues. The organizations will now file various state regulatory applications, with final closing of the merger expected in the fourth quarter of 2009.

"We are excited about this merger and confident that together, our organizations will provide better access to quality care for Ocean County residents," says John K. Lloyd, FACHE, president, Meridian Health. "Our organizations are both locally based and governed, and completely focused on the residents of Ocean and Monmouth counties. We are both charitable, not-for-profit health care providers which share common missions and values, and enjoy similar cultures. Because of these similarities, we expect a seamless transition for our communities, physicians, nurses, and team members."

The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding this past January that began the evaluation and review process toward this definitive agreement and proposed merger.

"Through the months spent conducting an in-depth examination of what this merger would mean for our community, I am confident that together we will greatly benefit the families and friends SOCH has proudly cared for over the past 37 years," says Joseph P. Coyle, president and CEO of SOCH. "Through this merger, SOCH will be better positioned for the future, ensuring our ability to advance our mission of service to those living in and visiting southern Ocean County for years to come."

The merger will utilize the resources of Meridian Health and SOCH to enhance the level of care and service to the community, decrease costs through shared efficiencies and purchasing opportunities, and provide new academic and research opportunities for physicians, nurses, and clinicians.

"Meridian Health and SOCH have a long history of successful collaborations in such areas as pediatrics, high-risk obstetrics, and home care," says Lloyd. "The addition of SOCH to Meridian's existing three medical centers, children's hospital, and other health-related providers builds on this foundation, and will ensure this community greater access to exceptional hospital and health care services now and in the future."

Meridian Health, which includes Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, and Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, is among the state's most comprehensive not-for-profit health care providers, with health care services that include home care and hospice agencies; skilled nursing and subacute care facilities; physician practices; rehabilitation and fitness centers; occupational health services; home medical equipment and in-home safety technology; ambulance and medical transportation services; as well as outpatient laboratory, imaging, and surgery centers.

Meridian Health has been ranked among the state's top performing health systems for quality and was the first health system to receive Magnet designation for nursing excellence by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a distinction earned by less than 3% of hospitals nationwide. Meridian Health is also one of the few hospital providers in the nation to receive the prestigious John M. Eisenberg Award for Patient Safety and Quality, and has for many years been named as one of the nation's Most Wired and Wireless health systems and one of the "Best Places to Work in New Jersey."

Over its relatively short history, Southern Ocean County Hospital has greatly advanced its facilities and scope of services. Starting as a small single building in 1972 and growing into the multi-campus health system it is today, SOCH has grown to focus on wellness and outpatient care, as well as quality hospital care. Over the years, SOCH has been recognized by the New Jersey Hospital Association and other organizations for its quality initiatives and significant community outreach.

"Meridian Health and SOCH have shared commitments to quality and performance improvement, with proven results," says Lloyd. "Through future integration and alignment, our combined organization will provide an even greater level of support to advance these efforts to benefit the patients we serve."

It is also anticipated that the comprehensive range of services provided once SOCH and Meridian Health join together will better position the combined organization to respond to health care reform efforts in the future.

"What we do know about the reform proposals currently under discussion is that they will most likely support organizations providing a wide range of services that serve a significant portion of their community," says Lloyd. "This expanded alignment of our services throughout Ocean and Monmouth counties will provide a great platform to implement any quality and efficiency proposals presented as part of a federal health care reform package."