Health Care Alliance Aims to Bring Care Closer to Home

By Briana Vannozzi

A breast cancer diagnosis for south jersey resident Gabriella Baldassare was the start of a tough road for her young family.

“The diagnosis itself is so overwhelming and then you’re thrown all this information,” she said.

That’s why she lent her support and story for the announcement of a new alliance between Virtua Health and Penn Medicine.

“It brings the best that Virtua has to offer, and then it brings the Penn research and clinical trials right to the door step,” Virtua CEO Rich Miller said.

Starting today, the two facilities are partnering in cancer and neurological care.

“This alliance now provides our patients with easy access to complex and high acuity care at Penn medicine including bone marrow transplants, advanced hematology and surgery and second opinion services,” Miller said.

Virtua already provides cancer treatment. About 4,000 patients were diagnosed and treated at the health system in 2014. Now, they’ll be collaborating with a world-renowned center that’s closer to home.

“25 percent of our patients already come from New Jersey, so we already have a big footprint in New Jersey in terms of our patients. 30 percent of our employees live in New Jersey, so we’re very familiar with the programs over here,” said CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System Ralph Muller.

This alliance applies to all three of Virtua’s south Jersey locations: Voorhees, Memorial and the Marlton campus. You’ll start to see services rolled out in just a few months.

“In the area of neuroscience, we will collaborate for the treatment of diagnosis such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, brain injury and dementia. Beginning in January, Penn surgeons will perform surgery at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Burlington County so patients no longer have to leave Virtua for this advanced care,” said Miller.

“We’ll provide consultative services to the entire Virtua Health System,” said Dr. Sean Grady, Chairman for the Department of Neurosurgery, Penn Medicine. “We’re going to be opening ambulatory sites both close to the memorial campus, but also on the southern campus as well.”

Both parties say it’ll save money. The integration of electronic records and coordinated care will cut down on redundancies.

“It allows us professionally to collaborate, and that collaboration between neurosurgery and neurology is going to make a seamless connection for our patients and also for the physicians,” said Medical Director of Neurology at Virtua, Dr. Jonathan Orwitz.

“Time and money becomes very overwhelming, too, during a health crisis. So being able to be closer to home also reduces time and costs,” Baldassare said.

The hospitals hope that’s the clincher for patients. Top notch care, right around the corner.