Leaders of St. Francis Medical Center, a member of Trinity Health and one of two hospitals in the capital city, have signed a non-binding letter of intent to become part of Capital Health.
Officials said the non-binding agreement is the first step in evaluating and designing a framework for St. Francis to become a part of Capital Health, with a goal of working toward a definitive agreement that will create a more comprehensive and sustainable health care system for the Trenton area community.
Capital Health operates the regional medical center, a level two trauma center and hospital, on Brunswick Avenue. The health care system had a much bigger footprint in Trenton a little more than a decade ago. But in 2011, Capital Health shut down its 650,000-square-foot Mercer hospital campus on Bellevue Avenue and moved to the suburbs, opening a new hospital in Hopewell Township. The emergency room at the hospital campus remained open until the fall of 2013.
St. Francis Medical Center, which is located on Hamilton Avenue in Trenton, became part of Trinity Health, one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the country, in 2013. Trinity operates more than 90 hospitals across the country.
Representatives for both hospital systems issued statements Thursday saying St. Francis becoming part of Capital Health would be good for the Trenton area community.
“From its founding as the city’s first hospital in 1874 to its important role as an acute care teaching hospital and Mercer County’s only provider of comprehensive cardiac surgery, St. Francis Medical Center has always put the needs of Trenton and surrounding neighborhoods first,” said Al Maghazehe, president and CEO of Capital Health. “This approach aligns very well with Capital Health’s mission, and we are committed to our shared vision of providing the highest level of care for the community.”
Samuel Plumeri, Jr., chairman of the Capital Healthcare, Inc. board of trustees, said the merger reflects what is happening with hospitals across the country. “The changes we’re seeing here in Mercer County are a reflection of what’s going on nationally,” Plumeri said. “But our neighbors in Trenton and nearby communities can rest assured that we will continue to keep their interests at the center of all we do.”
Daniel Moen, the president and CEO of St. Francis Medical Center, said both hospitals are committed to taking care of residents. “The rapidly changing healthcare landscape presents challenges, but it is through a shared mission that both organizations look to expand services and positively impact the health and well-being of local and regional residents,” Moen said.
“As a safety net hospital, ensuring the community has access to care is the heart of our mission,” said Joseph Youngblood, II, the chairman of the St. Francis Medical Center board of trustees. He said the partnership will carry on the legacy of the Sisters of St. Francis in Philadelphia who founded the hospital to serve Trenton residents. “In response to a broad national transformation of health care, we look to combine our strengths with those of Capital, a healthcare leader, and grow services for our residents,” Youngblood said. “Together, we are steadfast in our commitment to provide area residents, including the underserved with high-quality, comprehensive care and to improve the delivery of healthcare for our community.”
Capital Health and St. Francis will now enter a period of due diligence. The process includes evaluations and discussions to determine how to best combine and strengthen the hospitals. Approvals from state and federal officials and others will be required before the transaction is completed.