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New Jersey health system plans to revamp campus, build medical school, and more

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AtlantiCare unveiled ambitious initiatives and announced partnerships with the Cleveland Clinic, Oracle Health, Drexel University and others.

AtlanticCare, a health system based in New Jersey, has unveiled sweeping plans to transform the organization, including partnerships with some big names in healthcare.

Image: AtlantiCare

Michael Charlton, president and CEO of AtlantiCare, outlined plans to transform its main campus, along with partnerships with Cleveland Clinic, Oracle Health, and others.

Michael Charlton, president and CEO of AtlantiCare, outlined the system’s “Vision 2030” during an event Wednesday. AtlantiCare, based in Atlantic City, N.J., is aiming to revamp its main campus, which will create thousands of jobs, Charlton said.

AtlantiCare is also planning to build a new medical school in Atlantic City in partnership with the Drexel University College of Medicine. The system is partnering with Stockton University to train more people for nursing jobs.

Charlton also announced that AtlantiCare has formed a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic to offer improved cancer care. The health system is also partnering with Oracle Health to transform AtlantiCare’s digital technology.

After Charlton announced the plans and partnerships, he said, “AtlantiCare is done following healthcare trends and we are going to transform and set the trends moving forward.”

AtlantiCare operates two hospitals with a total of about 600 beds, along with more than 100 sites of care across southern New Jersey. Charlton said he’s looking to establish AtlantiCare as a destination for patients seeking care, and the system is looking to serve patients who often head to Philadelphia, about 60 miles from Atlantic City, when they need care.

Reflecting the system’s home base in one of America’s leading gambling destinations, Charlton said AtlantiCare “must be more daring.”

“We're building towards a massive transformation today,” he said. “There's no way to achieve great gains without taking bold chances.”

Campus overhaul

AtlantiCare is looking to transform its main campus into “a medical city,” Charlton said.

The plans include a new cardiac tower “for our award-winning cardiac program,” he said.

Charlton also said the plans include a state-of-the-art emergency department, “which will provide our patients with an experience they deserve.” AtlantiCare plans to build a new imaging center, and a post-acute rehabilitation center in partnership with Select Medical.

“If we reimagine the campus with new facilities, and we bring together innovative technologies and care concepts, we transform how healthcare is being delivered,” he said.

New medical school

For the first time, Charlton said AtlantiCare is planning to build a new medical school “right here in Atlantic City.”

AtlantiCare has established a clinical affiliation with Drexel University School of Medicine. Drexel partnered with Tower Health to build a branch medical school just outside of Reading, Pa., and officials hoped to see similar success in South Jersey.

Charles Cairns, dean of Drexel’s College of Medicine, said the university was drawn to partnering with AtlantiCare to help Atlantic City, which faces many challenges.

Cairns said Drexel wants to “really take on the challenges of those who have been either underserved by healthcare, or underrepresented in the innovation that is healthcare, with new discoveries, new technologies, new care models.”

Charlton highlighted the importance of training more residents.

“We need to control our own destiny,” he said. “We need to make sure that we are creating the leaders of the future. We need a medical school.”

Stockton University will also play a key role in training more people for healthcare careers. Joe Bertolino, president of Stockton, welcomed the partnership.

“We also need growth in our nurses and in our social workers and that is where Stockton comes in,” he said. “This provides us with an opportunity to grow those programs and meet the needs of the community.”

Cancer care with Cleveland Clinic

AtlantiCare announced a new affiliation with the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Institute, which will give patients more chances to get additional treatments and opportunities for clinical trials.

Cleveland Clinic performed a rigorous review of AtlantiCare before agreeing to the partnership, Charlton said.

“The Cleveland Clinic Cancer Institute provides comprehensive cancer care and it's enhanced by internationally recognized research. It ensures that patients have access to the latest advances in cancer treatment,” he said.

Hetty Carraway, vice chair of strategy and enterprise development at the Taussig Cancer Institute at Cleveland Clinic, said the organizations share core values.

“We're really looking forward to sharing some of the opportunities that we have with regard to care paths, and really influencing and improving the quality of care, ensuring safety for our patients, and just really continuing to share in the value of focusing on excellence with each patient,” she said.

Partnering with Oracle Health

AtlantiCare is partnering with Oracle Health for the digital infrastructure as it embarks on its transformation efforts. The system will become one of the first to use Oracle’s new Clinical Digital Assistant (CDA), which utilizes AI technology to enable clinicians to record conversations with patients, and allows clinicians to give voice commands to pull up a patient’s health records and test results.

“It's imperative that we align ourselves with a partner who can only keep up with the rate of change, but is leading the rate of change,” Charlton said.

Mike Sicilia, executive vice president of Oracle Global Industries, hailed AtlantiCare’s commitment to transformation.

“Your willingness to lean into transformation and your willingness not to accept the status quo as, this is just how it works, this is just the way it goes, this is healthcare … is frankly something we haven't seen everywhere,” Sicilia said.

Other initiatives

Charlton said AtlantiCare has formed a partnership with Global Neurosciences Institute to offer more neuroscience care. He said the institute’s approach to medicine “fosters innovation, breaking from the traditional academic structure to deliver exceptional patient care.”

AtlantiCare also announced goals of improving the overall health of the region, including a target of expanding life expectancy in the Atlantic City area by five years. The system plans to help address housing and food insecurity.

“Serving community is one of our strategic pillars, and one of the biggest parts of Vision 2030,” Charlton said. “The social determinants of health influence not only life expectancy, but also the quality of the years.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy delivered a message via video and said that he’s looking to work with AtlantiCare as it pursues its Vision 2030.

“I'm eager to work with you, with each of you, to ensure our state's healthcare infrastructure is ready to face the challenges to come, and to deploy new innovations to provide the best possible cutting-edge care,” Murphy said.

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