Spread the word: Trenton is now down to 1 hospital

The exterior of St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton.

The exterior of St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton. (St. Francis Medical Center/Facebook)

St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, N.J. is now under the auspices of Capital Health. As of 12:01 Wednesday morning, the merger between the regional health provider and the 150-year-old hospital became official.

Also, St. Francis Hospital is no more — It’s now a standalone emergency department with several outpatient services under a new name, Capital Health — East Trenton.

The hospital’s closure means more work for the Trenton Health Team, according to executive director Greg Paulson, who said informing the community on where to seek medical services will continue well beyond the overnight transition.

“We’re really working hard to share information with our community at this point,” Paulson said. “Our community engagement team will be working very closely with community groups to make sure that their experiences and their perspectives are shared back with Capital Health.”

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Pointing out the “very large” Latino population in the surrounding neighborhood along with other immigrant groups, Paulson adds that linguistic, cultural, and other needs will need to be considered while providing care.

“How are they living their lives, what are the challenges and barriers they may face as they’re trying to access care and live their daily lives, have healthy food, get physical activity, have access to the medications they need,” he offers as examples. “All of what health care refers to the social determinants of health are really the realities that people live in their lives that have a very large impact on their health and well-being.”

Under the approval letter from state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, a primary family health clinic and a women’s OB/GYN clinic must operate “on the grounds of or in the immediate neighborhood to,” St. Francis’ campus at Hamilton Ave. and Chambers St., in addition to the standalone emergency room.

Other services St. Francis provided, including cardiac surgery, are moving to Capital Health Regional Medical Center, on Brunswick Ave., which is now the only hospital located within Trenton’s boundaries. “Extensive” capital projects are being planned there, according to a press release.

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A St. Francis spokeswoman told NJ Advance Media that the hospital has been financially struggling for years. Trenton officials expressed concern about losing a hospital to serve the city’s 90,000 residents.

Daniel Moen, president and CEO of St. Francis Medical Center, said in a press release announcing the transition, that Capital Health acquiring the institution is “our best alternative” adding it “helps preserve our mission and creates a more comprehensive healthcare system for the residents of Trenton and Mercer County.”

“It combines our high-quality, complementary services to form an integrated health care network that improves access to care for local and regional residents,” Moen said.

Paulson adds the transition is representative of the types of change taking place in health care delivery across the country, adding that the business model of health care delivery is very challenging.

“There is less need for people to be admitted to stay in the hospital,” he said. “There is more need to provide other services on an outpatient/ambulatory basis.”

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