Bypass Hearing

Woodbridge Merger

Management Moves

Stock News


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This article by was prepared for the June 11, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Life in the Fast Lane

Downtown Princeton was able to hold onto its library,

but it may someday lose its hospital. For now, though, Princeton Borough

— which is overseeing the library’s demolition and reconstruction

after it had considered moving to the adjoining Princeton Township

— just has to adjust to a hospital with a different name. The

Medical Center at Princeton, still referred to as "Princeton Hospital"

by many, is now the University Medical Center at Princeton. A new

logo goes along with the change, as does an altered strategy.

Bruce Traub, vice president of finance of the hospital, says that

an enhanced affiliation with the University of Medicine and Dentistry

of New Jersey, the highest level of affiliation the institution affords,

is part of that strategy. Princeton has long been a teaching hospital,

but, he says, it is not always perceived as such. "There are benefits

to receiving care at a teaching hospital," he says, "and we

are not always recognized as being a teaching hospital." In fact,

Princeton has long had UMDNJ residents on its staff, and now has 33,

a number that will grow under its new relationship with the medical


Princeton also hopes that its new plan will grow its inpatient population.

Its goals include increasing emergency room visits from 36,000 to

42,000; upping surgical volume from 2,500 to 3,600 patients; and delivering

some 700 additional babies. Marketing will be important in accomplishing

these goals. "We have the beds," says Traub. "I think

we can do a better job of letting patients know what we do here."

Toward that end, $750,000 has been allotted to develop and spread

the word about the medical center’s new identity.

Physician recruitment and better coordination of insurance coverage

are two more steps along the way to full utilization. "Over the

next three or four years we will need 45 more physicians," says

Traub. Recruiting is a long process, he says, made more difficult

by the scarcity of doctors in some specialties and by New Jersey’s

high malpractice rates. Initially, Princeton plans to retain a recruiter

to help with the task. As for insurance, it often determines where

a patient will elect to have a procedure. Getting more physicians

to accept payment from the insurance companies from which the hospital

accepts payment is important, and Princeton made a big move in that

direction on June 1.

"The biggest payor is Aetna," says Traub. "On June 1,

our physicians’ organization signed with Aetna."

Princeton is not alone in having empty beds. There are 83 hospitals

in the state, says Ron Czajkowski, spokesman for the New Jersey Hospital

Association, and at the end of calendar 2002, they were running at

74.5 percent capacity in maintained beds — those that are made

up and ready to go, as opposed to those in closed-off wings. "That

doesn’t mean that our hospitals are not very busy places," he

hastens to add. Even with 25 percent of beds unused, intensive care,

oncology, and cardiac "could be at 100 percent week after week."

Still, 83 hospitals competing in one of the smallest states in the

union, and one that is bookended by two cities chock-a-block with

famous medical facilities, means that each hospital has its work cut

out, and not just in attracting patients who will be needing beds.

"Three or four decades ago," says Czajkowski, "patients

came in sick and went home seven days later." Now, those who arrive

packing tooth brushes are home again in an average of four days. For

many, the stay is so short that "drive-by" operation does

not seem to be a complete misnomer. "The classic example is cataract

surgery," he gives as an example. "Thirty years ago, you were

in for 10, 12 days. Now, you’re in at 9 a.m. and home in a recliner

by 2 p.m."

Outpatient services have exploded, and changed the very

nature of a medical center. "In 1990," says Czajkowski, "there

were 7 1/2 million outpatient procedures done in New Jersey. In 2000,

it was 13 million."

Given this shift, it is not surprising that Princeton’s plans include

a big, new emphasis on outpatient and preventative services. A centerpiece,

the Medical Center at Princeton Fitness & Wellness Center, a full-service

gym and rehabilitation facility, just celebrated its grand opening

on Route 206 in the Princeton North Shopping Center.

Under its new identity, Princeton is calling attention to other off-site

facilities — many of which have been around for years — by

renaming them to emphasize the connection. Princeton House is now

Princeton House Behavioral Health, and HomeCare Services is now Princeton

HomeCare Services.

The biggest change of all could be the end of a downtown hospital

for Princeton. "We’re landlocked," says Traub. Sitting on

a nine-acre site, the hospital sees no way to expand significantly.

Even if the Princeton Packet, occupying one large and several small

buildings across the street in one direction and a good-sized parking

lot in the other, should suddenly decide to sell (not so far-fetched

considering that the Packet once weighed moving its printing presses

to a spacious South Brunswick location), it would not be enough. "Someone

on the staff suggested that," Traub says with a laugh. A suggestion

to approach Princeton Township about land it owns a little farther

down Witherspoon Street has been floated too.

But, says Traub, even if nearby land should become available it would

not change the fact that "Witherspoon is a narrow street."

It is not easy for ambulances to get through town and down to the

hospital via Witherspoon, and he says that navigating trafficky Route

206, which runs parallel, is not much easier.

Princeton is looking for new space on which to build a large outpatient

facility. It is not impossible, says Traub, that its inpatient services

could move to such a new facility, too. But what the draw of the Princeton

location at which so many Princeton area folks were born and gave

birth? Traub acknowledges the importance of the Princeton connection,

and says that any new facility would be close by. The borough, lacking

as it is in large parcels of empty land, probably is not an option,

he says, but the township is. And the medical center, says Traub,

is indeed looking at land in the township.

Robert Cimasi, president of St. Louis-based Health Capital Consultants,

a healthcare consulting group, is not surprised. "We do a lot

of work in Mercer County," he says. "Things are moving pretty

quickly. Look at the other facilities in the county that don’t have

beds, but provide outpatient services — cancer, surgery, rehabilitation,

a lot of things that used to be in-patient." Outpatient services

is the direction in which health care is moving.

It is the same in St. Louis as it is in New Jersey. The city has one

of the top three teaching hospitals in the country, Washington School

of Medicine, says Cimasi, but the hospital connected with it had to

change substantially to survive. "Washington U is connected to

Barnes, which has had to merge with many others," he says. "It

had to get out in the community."

The pressures that are driving Princeton, and every other hospital,

in Cimasi’s view, include technology, paltry reimbursement, and a

clueless federal government. "If you had a brain tumor, would

you settle for an X-Ray?" asks Cimasi. His tone makes it clear

that this is a rhetorical question. "No, you would want a 3D MRI."

Obtaining such a machine is wildly expensive in any case. Obtaining

one in New Jersey, a highly-regulated state where hospitals have to

show a need for such tools may be impossible.

On the other side of the coin, it is possible to obtain an approval

for a device or a procedure, spend millions to put it in place, and

then see newer technology reduce its benefit as a revenue generator.

An example is open-heart surgery, a program Princeton does not have

and is unlikely to get. Hospitals able to provide this procedure have

found it to be a major profit center in an increasingly unprofitable

industry. But, zooming along, as is its wont, technology has now produced

devices — drug-coated stents to keep blood flowing smoothly through

clogged veins and arteries — that stand to substantially cut the

need for open heart surgery.

If rapidly-changing technology makes planning difficult, it is nothing

compared with the havoc wrought by the government. "I’m going

to be in Washington this week," says Camisi, who is getting set

to appear on Capitol Hill to testify to lawmakers about healthcare

reimbursement. "I’m not sure anyone is steering the ship,"

he says.

In 20 years of involvement in the healthcare industry, Camisi says,

"I have never seen times as uncertain as they are now." Congress,

by cutting reimbursement under Medicare and Medicaid, has all but

killed the home care industry, he says. Most hospitals, including

Princeton, derive half of their revenue from the two programs. Further

cuts, in Camisi’s opinion, would be devastating. "Princeton could

do everything brilliantly," he says, "but with one stroke

Washington could wipe it out."

But given the battle that Princetonians put up for their library,

Washington could be the least of the University Medical Center at

Princeton’s problems should it decide to decamp from Witherspoon Street.

— Kathleen McGinn Spring

Top Of Page
Bypass Hearing

The wheels turn slowly, but they keep turning. Progress

has been made on the plans to alleviate traffic jams on Route 1 —

and on roads that feed into Route 1 — in the Penns Neck area of

West Windsor.

After the DOT’s initial preferred alignment for a Millstone River

bypass was decried by opponents as an environmentally-harmful fait-accompli

presented with little community input, a roundtable approach was initiated

by then governor Christie Whitman. The Voorhees Transportation Policy

Institute of Rutgers University, operating at the request of the New

Jersey Department of Transportation, organized a Partners Roundtable.

Its 32 members represented sometimes conflicting community, historic

preservation, environmental, corporate, retail, and government constituencies,

and they came up with seven road-based alternatives for the five-mile

radius around the Route 1 and Washington Road intersection in the

Penns Neck section.

Diagrams of the seven alternatives were presented to the public on

September 30, 2002. Now the required full-scale environmental impact

study (EIS) is ready. Public hearings on the EIS will be held Monday,

June 30, at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the New Jersey Hospital Association

Conference Center, 760 Alexander Road. If needed, the public hearing

will continue on Tuesday, July 1, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the West Windsor

Township Municipal Complex, 271 Clarksville Road.

EIS materials for review are available now at six locations, including

the clerks’ offices of Princeton borough and township and the public

libraries in West Windsor and Plainsboro. Materials will also be available

on the day of the hearing from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Those who wish to make a presentation at the hearing are encouraged

to make an appointment by calling in advance to Andrea Lubin at 732-932-6812,

extension 593, but appointments can also be made at the door. Written

statements received by Friday, August 1, will be made part of the

record. Statements or appointment requests can also be sent to Rutgers/Voorhees

Transportation Policy Institute, 33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick

08901, or faxed to 732-932-3714, or E-mail:

Top Of Page
Woodbridge Merger

Synnestvedt Lechner & Woodbridge LLP, 112 Nassau

Street, Box 592, Princeton 08542-0592. Richard Woodbridge, president.

609-924-3773; fax, 609-924-1811.

Dick Woodbridge has merged his four-attorney intellectual property

law practice, Woodbridge & Associates PC, with a 106-year-old firm

in Philadelphia, one of the oldest full-service intellectual property

law firms in the country. "We considered merging with large general

practice firms in the past," says Woodbridge, partner in charge

of the Princeton office, "but came to the realization that, from

a cultural and practice standpoint, our clients would be best served

by joining with a well-established, independent IP firm, such as Synnestvedt

& Lechner."

"The continued growth of technology-based companies in New Jersey,

particularly in the life sciences and specialty chemical fields which

are traditional strengths of our firm, warrants our expansion into

New Jersey," says Al Barron, managing partner.

The Philadelphia office did not change its name, but the Princeton

office uses the combined names. Woodbridge and Associates has expertise

in computer, electronic, and software fields as well as in trademark


Top Of Page
Management Moves

Greater Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, 214

West State Street, Trenton 08608-1002. Cathy Frank-White, CEO. 609-393-4143;

fax, 609-393-1032. Home page:

Citing the need for a less demanding job, Cathy Frank-White announced

she will retire as president of the Mercer Chamber on July 1. Her

resignation was not expected, and she will remain as a part-time consultant

while the board conducts a search for her successor. Having increased

the membership rolls by 20 percent, from 900 to nearly 1,100 businesses,

Frank-White leaves the chamber in a stronger position than when she

arrived in 1999.

When Frank-White took the job as president and CEO of the Greater

Mercer Chamber, she was starting her fifth career. A graduate of Montclair

State with a master’s degree from the College of New Jersey, her first

job was teaching high school and middle school. Successive jobs were

as administrator of Township of Branchburg, executive director of

the New Jersey Chiefs Association, and manager of government relations

for Wakefern Food Corporation and Shop Rite.

When she came to the chamber she made it a point to personally visit

each and every business that called her office to spend time explaining

what the chamber could do for them. She also instigated expansion

into new areas of the county, most recently Hopewell.

Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street,

Princeton 08540. Thomas W. Gillespie, president. 609-921-8300; fax,

609-924-2973. Home page:

Thomas W. Gillespie will retire as the seminary’s fifth president

on June 30, 2004. During his 10-year tenure the seminary completed

two major capital campaigns.

Top Of Page
Stock News

First Washington State Bank (FWFC), Route 130 and

Main Street, Windsor 08561-0500. C. Herbert Schneider, CEO. 609-426-1000;

fax, 609-426-9624.

First Washington FinancialCorp, holding company for First Washington

State Bank, hopes to move its stock from the OTC Bulletin Board to

the NASDAQ SmallCap Market. It expects to receive approval for the

listing by early summer.

With 125 employees in Central New Jersey, the bank has 12 branch offices

and is a joint venture partner in Windsor Title Agency LP. It has

received approval for a new branch at the ShopRite in the Mercer


Top Of Page

George A. Ford, 57, on May 28. He had worked for RCA and

as equipment manager for the Lawrenceville School.

Victor P. Kozak, 70, on June 3. He owned Ultimus Fishing

Products in Lawrenceville.

Thomas "Kirk" Finney, 53, on June 3. He was a

cook at Cloister Inn in Princeton.

Sandra Lee Jefferis Wagner, 58, on June 5. She taught

at the Waldorf School of Princeton.

Robert Calvin Gaver, 64, on June 7. He was a cancer researcher

at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Chen Do Yu, 60, on June 7. He was a manager at CVS Pharmacy.

Eugene C. Sersen, 45, on June 8. He worked at the U.S.

Post Office in Princeton.

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