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December 15, 2022

Cooper University, Cape Regional health care systems to merge

The deal continues Cooper's growth in South Jersey. Earlier this fall, it revealed a $2 billion plan to expand its Camden campus

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Cooper Cape Regional Health Merger Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Cooper University Health Care and Cape Regional Health System aim to complete their merger by early 2024.

Cooper University Health Care and Cape Regional Health System intend to merge into a single system that would include two hospitals, six urgent care centers and more than 130 ambulatory locations across eight South Jersey counties. 

Terms of the agreement, announced Wednesday, were not disclosed. The merger will require approval by health care regulators.

Cooper, based in Camden, operates Cooper University Hospital and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, in addition to the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. It also has affiliations with more than 20 regional hospitals. Cape Regional Health System, based in Cape May Court House, is one of the largest employers in Cape May County with multiple facilities and specialty services in South Jersey.

The new health system is projected to make more $2.2 billion in annual revenue. Both health systems are currently profitable, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. Cooper pulled in $1.8 billion in revenue last year; The smaller Cape Regional generated $177 million. 

Together, the combined health systems will have more than 900 licensed beds and employ more than 10,000 workers, including 900 doctors.

"For more than 135 years, Cooper has continued to expand its reach to provide advanced health care to the people of South Jersey," said George E. Norcross, III, chairman of Cooper University Health Care's Board of Trustees. "This merger of two trusted health care organizations will benefit tens of thousands of residents and visitors to Cape May County and strengthen the overall health care system in South Jersey."

For years, Cooper has helped staff Cape Regional's intensive care unit in Cape May Court House and has provided telehealth services for a range of specialties.

"As it becomes more and more challenging for smaller health systems to operate independently, merging with Cooper made the most sense as we share the same commitment to the communities we serve and to providing the highest quality care to our patients," said Garry Gilbert, chairman of the Cape Regional Health System Board of Trustees.

In September, Cooper University Health Care announced a $2 billion expansion plan that includes three new clinical towers. Cooper is the largest employer in Camden County with more than 8,900 employees. Cape Regional employs more than 1,100 people. 

Cooper and Cape Regional aim to sign a definitive agreement in March 2023, with a goal for regulatory approval by early 2024.

Disclosure: George E. Norcross III, is the chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Cooper Health System. He is the father of PhillyVoice Founder and Chairwoman Lexie Norcross.

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