Einstein Healthcare Network to merge with Jefferson Health System

Community members wait in line to enter Einstein Medical Center in East Norriton during the hospital’s community day and open house Saturday, September 22, 2012. Photo by Christine Reckner/Times Herald Staff
Community members wait in line to enter Einstein Medical Center in East Norriton during the hospital’s community day and open house Saturday, September 22, 2012. Photo by Christine Reckner/Times Herald Staff
View of the front facade of Einstein Medical Center Montgomery Sept. 6, 2012. The hospital held a media tour day inpreperation to the Sept. 29th opening. Photo by Gene Walsh / Times Herald Staff
View of the front facade of Einstein Medical Center Montgomery Sept. 6, 2012. The hospital held a media tour day inpreperation to the Sept. 29th opening. Photo by Gene Walsh / Times Herald Staff

EAST NORRITON >> With the help of Einstein Healthcare Network, the Jefferson Health System continues to mushroom.

At a press conference held Wednesday at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, Einstein Healthcare Network CEO Barry Freedman announced a letter of intent to merge the two non-profit organizations who are “not strangers to one another. In fact, we know and work well together,” Freedman said. “For the last two decades we have had a strong academic relationship, with Jefferson students coming to Einstein to further their clinical education. Einstein physicians are part of Jefferson’s faculty, and Jefferson’s physicians provide clinical services here at Einstein.”

The two health care systems had shared a previous alliance, Freedman allowed.

“That affiliation ended a decade ago, as we each went on to pursue our own strategies. Since then we have both grown and transformed, and the time is right to reconnect in a fuller, more integrated way. Most importantly,” he added, “we have shared values and cultures, something we both agreed was a necessary foundation.”

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Freedman called the merger a monumental step that will help the 150-year-old Einstein continue its mission of “humanity, humility and honor” while growing even stronger academically.

“The new clinical academic enterprise will now host the largest residency program in the Greater Philadelphia area,” Freedman said. “Together we will preserve and enhance both our teaching and research missions. Together, we would be better able to meet the needs of our patients. The merger will enhance both of our abilities to care for the populations in the Greater Philadelphia area regardless of income. Bringing our organizations together would provide us with opportunities … to grow and expand our reach. Together we could make health care more accessible and affordable.”

The Einstein deal marked the sixth acquisition by Philadelphia-based Jefferson — others included Abington Health, Aria and Kennedy Health — since CEO Stephen Klasko took over the network five years ago.

“This should be the least surprising thing that ever happened,” Klasko said, comparing the partnership to “that girl or boy you met in school and stayed friends with but all your other friends said that someday you would get married. Jefferson has been on a journey to partner with the most creative and academic healthcare systems in the region. Where we’re coming to call, and we believe is the future, is healthcare with no address,” he added, “where the patient is the boss and we’re hoping that people will define Jefferson and Einstein not by our buildings but by the care we give. So, five years from now, when somebody says, ‘where’s Jefferson, where’s Einstein?’ it will literally not be a specific building, it will be the amazing underserved care we give on North Broad and the care we give in our signature programs.”

Among the Einstein Healthcare Network properties that will now be part of Jefferson are Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia; Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park; Moss Rehab; Einstein Healthcare Network Plymouth Meeting; Einstein Healthcare Network King of Prussia; Einstein Healthcare Network Collegeville; Einstein Medical Center Montgomery and Einstein Montgomery Women’s Center, both in East Norriton, and the Minerva D. Braemer Medical Arts Building on the Einstein Medical Center Montgomery campus.

An additional ambulatory Einstein site, at 676 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, opened April 1, with one set to open at 2010 Broad St., Lansdale, May 1.

With the vast majority of Einstein’s revenue coming from Medicare and Medicaid programs, which pay lower amounts than private insurance, the merger will allow Einstein to reach more patients, noted Beth Duffy, COO Einstein Medical Center Montgomery,

“Healthcare has gone through a tremendous amount of change over the last several years moving toward population health, and one of the ways to be successful in ensuring that you provide the right care for the patient at the right place is to have as large of a population as you possibly can under your wing, caring for that group of patients. And so you look to organizations that can provide you with that scale so that you can be successful in the way that healthcare will be delivered in the future,” Duffy said. “You want to be able to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to all. We need to figure out how we can do that in the most cost-effective manner possible with the highest quality. We have been doing that,” she added, “but as the pressures continue to reduce the cost of healthcare we need to find other ways to do that.”

As pointed out during the press conference, life expectancy in certain areas of Philadephia is reduced due to lack of healthcare.

“There are some zip codes in Philadelphia where the life expectancy is similar to some Third World countries, and that’s down the street from Einstein Philadelphia,” Duffy said. “A lot of things that population (approach to) health aims to do is equal that out, because people who live in those zip codes have economic factors that affect their health. Simple things that we take for granted ... they don’t have a car to get to a doctor’s appointment or someone to watch their children. Sometimes they lack food. And all of that contributes to poor health outcome. Healthcare providers want to help people move away from that toward a healthier lifestyle.”

As Einstein Montgomery approaches its sixth anniversary, Duffy said it will continue to move along the same path, “and that is high quality care and accessibility. We want to continue to expand the services and programs that we offer and expand the locations where we offer health care.”

As the “due diligence” phase of the merger agreement unfolds in the coming months patients at Einstein Montgomery will see no changes to the care provided or the environment, Duffy assured.

“We will continue to provide them with the health care services they have enjoyed in this community since we opened six years ago.”