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RWJBarnabas Health Joins 13 Health Systems to Announce over $700 Million in Investments to Address Health, Housing and Economic Inequalities through Community Wealth Building

West Orange, New Jersey, November 6, 2019 – Fourteen hospitals and health systems, including RWJBarnabas Health, announced a commitment of over $700 million for place-based investing to create strong and healthy communities. These institutions include national and regional health systems and some of the largest private sector employers in their states and regions.

At RWJBarnabas Health, our mission is to create healthier communities,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer for RWJBarnabas Health. “As an anchor institution, we have a moral obligation to address the social and economic inequalities that plague our neighbors, particularly those who are most vulnerable. We have incorporated intentional hiring practices, purchasing and place-based investment to spur growth and stimulate local economies. Collaborations with incredible organizations such as the Healthcare Anchor Network and its national partners enable us to collectively improve health outcomes, promote health equity, and eliminate healthcare disparities for people in the communities we serve and beyond.”

Health systems are uniquely positioned as leading employers and economic engines in their communities. In addition to providing quality healthcare, they can leverage institutional resources to help address the economic, racial and environmental resource disparities that impact community health outcomes.

Why are these investments needed? These health systems know that the need to address the fundamental root causes of poor health is immense and they wanted to take action now. They also want to deepen institutional leadership in the Healthcare Anchor Network, and the healthcare sector more broadly, by making bold, measurable commitments in this core Anchor Mission strategy area.

Despite record low unemployment and an overall strong economy, our country is experiencing systematically deepening disparities in its economic, health, and well-being outcomes. We live in a world where your zip code could mean a lifespan a decade shorter than someone in a neighboring wealthier area. A recent NYU study showed that 56 of some of the biggest U.S. cities have very large life expectancy gaps, where on average people in one neighborhood can expect to live 20 to 30 years longer than their neighbors a few miles away.

New Jersey is the third wealthiest state in the nation, yet nearly 3.4 million New Jersey residents cannot afford to meet their basic needs. Over 1.9 million people live in homes that are too expensive, overcrowded or lack adequate plumbing and 919,000 New Jerseyans go to bed hungry each night.

Factors outside hospital walls—social, economic, environmental, and behavior-related—account for up to 80 percent of the health outcomes a community experiences. In addition to providing quality healthcare, these hospitals and health systems are investing in safe and affordable housing, equitable economic development, small/diverse business development, and other strategies for addressing the social determinants of health. They are also rethinking how to very intentionallyalign, leverage, and deploy their human resources and procurement power to create a local economic eco-system to support economic and health wellness.

The fourteen health systems are pledging to invest over $700 million toward impact investing. In addition to RWJBarnabas Health, the other 13 health systems are: Advocate Aurora Health, Anchorum St. Vincent, Bon Secours Mercy Health, Boston Medical Center, CommonSpirit Health, Einstein Healthcare Network, Henry Ford Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, ProMedica, Rush University Medical Center, Trinity Health, and UMass Memorial Health Care.

The goal is to create sustainable returns for the institutions while deploying that investment capital to address social determinant of health needs in their communities. Place-based investing creates healthy and thriving communities by increasing available capital for positive social, economic, or environmental impact. It supports local and diverse business development and empowers low-income people to create, manage, and own enterprises. These investments will be leveraged several times over to have an even greater impact in communities nationwide.

HAN systems’ investments include financing for affordable housing development, building a new grocery store in a food desert, childcare centers, federally qualified health centers, and Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and local businesses.

Here in New Jersey, RWJBarnabas Health is investing in stable and affordable housing, a greenhouse in Newark, a mobile greenhouse and cooking school, vending and procuring local businesses including minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses, career ladders for frontline employees and violence prevention interventions.

There’s also a business impact case for the social impact investing. These institutions can further align their capital with sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and community benefit priorities. They can also achieve a more diversified and impactful investment strategy.

RWJBarnabas Health, along with the other 13 institutions, is a member of the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) that supports health systems to accelerate learning and local implementation of economic inclusion strategies. The HAN hospitals and health systems together employ more than 1.5 million people, purchase over $50 billion annually, and have over $100 billion in investment assets.

“In the last two-and-a-half years, the HAN members have moved forward to collaborate on strategies and to align their business operations to tackle the structural and economic drivers of poor health through place-based investing, as well as through local, inclusive hiring and procurement,” stated Dave Zuckerman, HAN Director. “Anchor mission work utilizes and leverages local community resources to address jobs, training, small business support, and equitable community development. It’s individual and community wealth building,” added Zuckerman.

ABOUT RWJBarnabas Health
RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering nine counties with five million people. The system includes eleven acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, RWJUH in New Brunswick, RWJUH Somerset in Somerville, RWJUH Hamilton, RWJUH Rahway and Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston; three acute care children’s hospitals and a leading pediatric rehabilitation hospital with a network of outpatient centers (Children’s Specialized Hospital) with its multiple outpatient centers, a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, two trauma centers, a satellite emergency department, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, a medical group, multi-site imaging centers and two accountable care organizations.

RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest private employer – with more than 33,000 employees, 9,000 physicians and 1,000 residents and interns – and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health has forged a partnership with Rutgers University to create New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. The collaboration aligns RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey - the state's only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center - brings a world class team of researchers and specialists to fight alongside you, providing close-to-home access to the latest treatment and clinical trials.

CONTACT: Carrie Cristello
973.322.4642
carrie.cristello@rwjbh.org