NJ's 2 largest hospital systems to merge

Barnabas Health and Robert Wood Johnson Health System have finalized their plans to merge.

Robert Wood Johnson and Barnabas Health are planning to merge.

Robert Wood Johnson and Barnabas Health are planning to merge. (7/14/15)

TRENTON - Barnabas Health and Robert Wood Johnson Health System have finalized their plans to merge.

The deal announced Tuesday would create the largest hospital chain in the state, stretching from Essex County to the Jersey Shore. The new nonprofit entity will be known as RWJ Barnabas Health. It would include 11 acute care hospitals stretching from Toms River to Somerset, and would have nearly 30,000 employees.

"RWJ-Barnabas Health will allow us to serve a great geography of New Jersey with the goal of keeping people well, helping them get access, improve their experiences and reduce the cost of health care," says Stephen Jones, the President and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson Health System.

Jones also says there are no plans for any layoffs with the merger.

Linda Schwimmer, the vice president of the New Jersey Health Care Equality Institute says bringing the two health care systems together will be beneficial for the state, which she says is lacking when it comes to integrated community-based health care.

"We are behind in that movement when you compare us with other regions in the country," she says. "I think that the only way to get there and quickly is to have this sort of merger."

The merger must be reviewed by the state Attorney General's Office before it can become official, a review that should be completed sometime next year.

The Associated Press Wire Services contributed to this report.

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