By John Burton
LONG BRANCH – The announcement of a planned merger means Monmouth Medical Center will be getting bigger, and, according to its representatives, better.
The medical center is merging with Lakewood’s Kimball Medical Center, Barnabas Health, the network of health care facilities which owns and operates both facilities, has announced.
Plans call for the Kimball to change its name to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, and the creation of an integrated regionalized two-campus health care facility.
Kimball is the smaller of the two institutions and has traditionally served northern Ocean County and southern Monmouth County, said Carrie Cristello, media relations director of Barnabas Health. By bringing the two together “it will establish a stronger health care delivery model for the future and expand outpatient services to better manage the health of the populations served,” Cristello said.
The plan will allow Monmouth Medical Center to expand into Ocean County its outpatient programs, especially its oncology, neurology and geriatrics programs. “This will be a great benefit to the Ocean County community, as they will have new programs and services that they’ve never had before,” Cristello said.
Plans also call for establishment of a geriatric emergency medicine unit at Kimball.
A similar department was established with success at Monmouth Medical Center in 2012, Cristello said.
“The merger will maximize Kimball’s strengths and combine them with Monmouth Medical Center’s renowned specialty areas,” Cristello said.
Both facilities’ boards of trustees have approved the plans and both facilities will maintain separate licenses and staffs. However, a single board of trustees will oversee the two campuses, with members from Kimball joining Monmouth Medical’s, according to Cristello.
The merger is expected to take effect by the second quarter of 2014, pending regulatory approvals, she said.
Any merger would have to be approved by the state Attorney General’s Office. But the office has yet to take up this transaction, said Leland Moore, a spokesman for the attorney general, in an email message this week.
“We are taking proactive measures to adapt to the health care environment nationally and in Lakewood while ensuring that we share the strengths of our facilities to provide quality care to the communities we serve,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Barry H. Ostrowsky in a statement announcing the merger.
Kimball Medical Center opened on May 1, 1913 and became part of Barnabas Health in 1996, the same year Monmouth Medical Center joined the system.