The Department of Health and Senior Services announced today that it has granted approval -- with conditions -- for Capital Health System at Mercer to relocate from its present site in Trenton to a new hospital campus to be built in Hopewell Township.
Health care access by patients in Trenton is "expected to remain strong" under the relocation plan because outpatient services would be required to be maintained at the Mercer campus and a satellite emergency department would also have to be created at the present site on Bellevue Avenue.
In a letter to Capital Health System granting the approval, the Department said it concurred with Capital's argument that the relocation "will ensure a stronger financial future for the two-hospital system and permit appropriate and necessary funding of services at the Capital Health System at Fuld campus."
The approval is contingent on Capital Health System meeting several conditions required by the Department. They include:
Relocate the Regional Perinatal Center (RPC) from the Mercer to the Fuld campus. An RPC provides care to both high risk mothers and newborns. It also specializes in high risk deliveries and has a neonatal intensive care unit for newborns. The Department found there is a "greater need" for the specialized neonatal unit in Trenton based on various health indicators such as low and very-low birthweight babies.
Establish and maintain a satellite emergency room at the Mercer campus for three years.
Expand the hours of the Family Health Center located on the Mercer campus including the prenatal/obstetric and pediatric clinics.
The Fuld campus must continue to operate at its current location for 10 years after the relocation of the Mercer campus.
Develop a transportation plan for patients and families including working with the Greater Mercer Transportation Association to develop a direct bus route from the current Mercer site to the Hopewell Township site. A progress report on the transportation plan must be submitted to the Department no later than Oct. 1.
The Hopewell Township site, located off Interstate 95, is six miles from the Mercer campus.
Submit an annual report to the Department documenting demonstrable financial investments and clinical support to the Fuld campus including physical plant improvement, new technology and equipment.
On Nov. 30, 2006, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. granted approval for the Trenton hospital to relocate to a different location on Princess Road in Lawrence Township. The change in location to Hopewell Township required Capital Health System to resubmit its request for approval at the new proposed location.
The state Health Planning Board also approved the original relocation request.
In its request for approval of the relocation, Capital Health System argued that the Mercer campus was old and inefficient, too costly to renovate.