- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) - Two New Jersey hospital networks say they are planning to merge.

Meridian Health and Hackensack University Health Network officials said Thursday that they have signed a memorandum of understanding and are working toward a merger. They said it could be four months before they have a final agreement.

That would need to be approved by regulators, including the New Jersey Attorney General, Department of Health and Federal Trade Commission.

The new organization would be known as Hackensack Meridian Health and share a board made up of an equal number of trustees from each.

“Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to providing our counties and surrounding regions with a strong community and patient-focused health care system while becoming a national leader in the transformation of health care delivery,” John K. Lloyd, president and CEO of Meridian Health, said in a statement.

Meridian Health has six hospitals with more than 1,800 beds, while Hackensack has 1,697 hospital and nursing home beds in its network.

Hackensack also acquired the Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen last month. It is one of the largest health systems in the state.

Lloyd and Robert C. Garrett, president and CEO of Hackensack, would serve as co-presidents and chief executive officers for two and a half years. Garrett would then take over.

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