Corrections or additions?
These articles by Bart Jackson, Michele Alperin, and Kathleen
McGinn Spring were prepared for the March 2, 2005 issue of U.S. 1
Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Survival Guide: The Strategies Behind Princeton Hospital’s
If you add up the numbers – a projected 20 percent population growth
between 2000 and 2020, limited availability of beds and parking spaces
at the University Medical Center at Princeton, the number of acres
necessary for expansion – the decision to move the hospital was
perhaps inevitable. Nonetheless, Barry Rabner, president and CEO of
Princeton HealthCare System (PHS), is especially proud of the two-year
"participatory, public planning process" behind the board’s decision.
Citing "over 60 public meetings to discuss community needs in health
care and how we can serve them," as well as feedback from area
municipal leaders and PHS medical staff, he says "we are confident
we’re doing the right thing in building a replacement,
Rabner speaks on "Princeton Healthcare System’s Approach to Strategic
Planning and Its Vision for the Future" at a meeting of the Princeton
Regional Chamber on Thursday, March 3, at 11:30 a.m. at the Doral
Forrestal. Cost: $40. Call 609-924-1776 for more information.
"Our mission has remained the same for 85 years, but the way we do
what we do has changed radically," says Rabner. PHS is serving many
more people. Although the geographic area covered by PHS has not
changed, the population has both grown dramatically and aged, and
today PHS provides care or service to more than 300,000 people in
central New Jersey each year. The hospital has 850 physicians, an
increase of 200 in the last two years.
PHS has also added a long list of new programs and services as well as
improvements to existing programs. There is the new fitness and
wellness center, located in Montgomery, new specialty programs like
dialysis, lithotripsy, which uses shock waves to pulverize kidney
stones, bariatric surgery for obesity (also called gastric bypass),
and emergency neurosurgery.
Two recently launched ambulatory programs through Princeton House
Behavioral Medicine are an adult addiction and recovery outpatient
facility and an adult dual diagnosis partial hospital program to treat
people with emotional/psychiatric problems and alcohol or drug
addiction. Also new is a recent accreditation of the Merwick Rehab
Hospital & Nursing Care facility on Bayard Lane by the Commission on
Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, making it the only
rehabilitation facility in Mercer County with that designation.
The hospital is now affiliated with UMDNJ’s Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ)
Medical School. "We have expanded our residency programs and are
looking at adding new ones," says Rabner, "and we have a host of
clinical programs here that the medical school participates in, like
neurosurgery and the sleep lab." There are also eight different
pediatric subspecialties, including rheumatology, gastrointerology,
The hospital is heavily involved in community education and screening
programs. "Last year alone we provided almost 700 free and low-cost
programs, with 27,000 participants, funded in large part by our
foundation," says Rabner. "Over the last three years we have invested
upwards of $3 million." Screening has been done in churches, temples,
and mosques, and has included everything from breast cancer and
prostate cancer to diabetes, bone density, and heart disease.
Rabner himself is also a relatively new addition, having joined PHS in
March, 2002. His own academic degrees display a breadth of
intellectual expertise: a bachelor’s degree in zoology and chemistry
from the University of Maryland; a master’s degree in philosophy from
the Sorbonne; and a master’s degree in public health administration
from Rutgers University. Before coming to Princeton he worked for
Jefferson Health System in Philadelphia, where he was responsible for
strategic planning and acute care hospitals.
Despite the array of services offered by PHS, says Rabner, research
and focus groups that were part of developing a strategic plan
revealed that "even though we’ve been here for 85 years, many people
in the community were unaware of the scope of services offered at the
hospital and unaware that we were a system." They knew about separate
entities like Princeton House Behavioral Health, Merwick, and
Princeton Home Care, he continues, "but they didn’t know it was all
us." Hence, the new name, "Princeton HealthCare System."
Area residents also learned that although the hospital had been
teaching residents for 35 years, "few people knew we were a teaching
hospital." To educate the community about the affiliation agreement
with RWJ Medical School and the accreditation by the American Council
of Teaching Hospitals, says Rabner, "we added the word ‘university’ to
University Medical Center."
"But the biggest issue that arose from the strategic plan was the
realization that we needed to replace buildings in the acute care
hospital," he says, emphasizing the hospital is nearing capacity, with
"days when we are virtually full." He adds that it is "difficult to
add new programs and services on this campus, because there is no
space available." Although the hospital has been able to keep up with
technological needs so far, he adds, "if we don’t move aggressively to
replace the facility, we will run into the problem of not being able
to add new services and technology."
Whereas the existing Witherspoon Campus has 510,000 square feet, says
Rabner, long-term needs will require an additional 700,000 square
feet. At a new site, the hospital will also add 1,500 parking spaces
beyond the current 1,200 – 350 employees are already being bused in
from an employee lot off site. "In order to accommodate the new
spaces, with buildings that would be at a height compatible with the
neighborhood," says Rabner, "we would have to increase our footprint
from 11.75 acres to 26 acres."
The obstacles to rebuilding on the current site, he says, would
probably delay completion for 15 years. "Given the maturity of the
community around us and its interest in being preserved," he says,
approval of necessary changes would be difficult to come by, because
they would adversely affect the community. And even if the hospital
were granted permission to expand, he continues, "it would be
difficult to acquire land." Furthermore, even if the first two
conditions were satisfied, "we would need to phase the work, because
we are living here and serving people now." He estimates it would take
10 years to build on the current site, following five years devoted to
getting approvals and purchasing additional property.
"By looking to select a new site nearby of 50 acres or more, we think
we can get the work done at a lower cost, and more quickly," says
Rabner, "giving us an optimal solution rather than one that reflects
the kinds of compromises necessary if we were to do it where we are."
Considering all these factors, the board concluded that the best way
to proceed was on a new campus two to six miles from the current site.
Moving forward, Rabner sees the qualifications of PHS’s medical staff
as its greatest strength. "They are 99 percent board certified, with
many having gone to the best medical schools and participated in the
best residency programs around the country," he says. Besides being
"extraordinarily well qualified," he says that the hospital’s
physicians have a "remarkable depth of specialization, including a
range of specialty and subspecialty services, from oncologists and
orthopedists to experts in diagnostic imaging."
During Rabner’s tenure PHS has overcome a significant financial
challenge: "Three years ago we were losing money and had been for
several years before," he says. But over the past two years, "we have
been successful in addressing it, and we are now among the top 10
percent of hospitals in the state in profitability, while our costs
are in the bottom quartile."
A weakness that PHS is still addressing is the fact that some of the
large physician groups "do not accept all of the insurance that many
people in our service area have," says Rabner. Although the hospital
does not employ the physicians, "we need to encourage them to accept
more insurance so that people in our service area can come here."
In response to a question about how PHS’s plans would be affected by
Capital Health System’s decision to build a 300-bed facility in
Lawrence Township, Rabner says he was unable to comment, because all
he knew about their plan was what he’s read in the newspaper: "We’ve
been in contact the last couple of years," he says, "and they never
mentioned they were planning to build a new hospital in our service
area." Nonetheless, whatever their plans, "our board believes that
we’re best able to serve the needs of the community we’ve
traditionally served by remaining independent, as long as we can do so
with a high level of quality and remain financially strong."
— Michele Alperin
The New Jersey Forestry Association ("NJFA") holds its 30th annual
meeting, "The 21st Century Forest," at the Mercer County Community
College in West Windsor on Saturday, March 5, at 9 a.m. Speakers
include Mira Nakashima, daughter of famed craftsman George Nakashima,
who gives a presentation on the creation of architectural works of art
from natural materials.
Other speakers include Maryjude Haddock-Weiler, chief planner of the
Highlands Council; Anthony Sblendorio, principal of Back to Nature
Landscape Associations, who leads a discussion on how developm;
Barbara McConnell, NJFA legislative agent; and Richard M. Conley, a
retired tax court judge, who gives a report on activity in the
Pinelands. To register, contact NJFA at 908-832-2400.
Nakashima fully embraces her father’s philosophy that "the
woodworker’s responsibility is to the tree itself, which has been
sacrificed to live again in the woodworker’s hands." She attended
Harvard University and received a master’s degree in architecture from
Waseda University in Tokyo.
She worked for many years with her father as a colleague and designer
in his workshop. Since her father’s death in 1990, she has been the
creative director of the Nakashima studio, in New Hope, where she
continues to produce her father’s classic furniture designs and to
design and produce her own work as well.
The public is invited to soar above Mercer County at Mercer County
Community College’s Flight Fair on Saturday, March 5, from 9 a.m. to 4
p.m. Members of the college’s aviation faculty offer small plane
rides, taking off from the college’s hangar at Trenton-Mercer Airport
in Ewing. (Take I-95 to the Scotch Road exit, then follow the signs to
Ronson Aviation. The college’s hangar is down the road to the right of
Ronson.) The rain date is Sunday, March 6. Cost is 15 cents per pound
(weights are kept secret), with a maximum of $15 per person.
Jerry Kuhl, associate professor and assistant chief pilot, says that
the event benefits the college’s flight team. Proud of the
seven-member team, he says that it regularly beats teams from
four-year colleges. There is a national championship coming up in the
spring in the Midwest, and proceeds from the fair will help send the
team to compete.
There are about 50 students in the school’s aviation school. Their
goal? "They all want to fly big iron for big money," says Kuhl. In the
meantime, many transfer to aviation programs in four-year colleges
after graduating from MCCC, says Kuhl. For more information call
609-586-4800, ext. 3439.
Tiye Lasley is the founder of the New Jersey Chapter of African Asian
Latina Lesbian United (AALLU). "When I first came out," she says, "I
went to meetings in New York." There she met other Jerseyites who
wondered: "Why is there nothing in New Jersey?" Her response was to
contact the Pride Center in North Brunswick, where she received a warm
reception and a home for a Garden State chapter.
"There was another volunteer, Lenore Johnson, who was interested," she
says. "We created an organization for education and networking
opportunities for women of color, primarily for lesbians."
On Saturday and Sunday, March 5 and 6, the chapter hosts the annual
Eastern Regional Womyn of Colour for Equality Conference. Cost: $95,
including meals. For more information, call 732-679-7687.
Speakers include Margarita Lopez, a New York City councilwoman; author
Penny Mickelberry; and activist Imani Henry; as well as
representatives from Citicorp Financial Services and Lambda Legal.
Workshop topics include investment planning for lesbians, political
policies that affect people of color and their families, buying a
first home, and gender identity.
Lasley, an Old Bridge resident who holds a bachelor’s degree in
marketing from F.I.T. (Class of 1986), earned a master’s degree in
education from St. Peter’s College, and, after running her own event
planning company, is now on the staff of the Newark Public Schools’s
Office of Science.
Why a separate organization for lesbians of color? "There are
different issues," she says, "just like for heterosexuals."
She says that she has encountered far more prejudice as an African
American woman than she has as a lesbian. "That’s what people see,"
she says. "I don’t know any person of color who hasn’t run into it. It
happens quite frequently, even in Old Bridge."
She reels off examples of slights.
"I’m renting," she says. Her complex has a number of minority
residents. "When we came in, it was like ‘fill out an application.
Take a seat.’ A white couple came in right after us. They got a much
Lasley’s organization seeks to provide the education, and the support,
to make everyday activities, including buying or leasing a home or a
car, easier for people who have the same experiences that she has –
day after day. "We seek comfort from one another," she says.
Somewhere between your prototype’s final polish and its taking the
marketplace by storm, comes the time to shop for money. It is your new
company’s first real sales job. So you had better dress up and shine,
because if you cannot sell a handful of investors, how can you ever
expect to sell to customers?
On Tuesday, March 8, at 9:30 a.m. some young companies make their most
persuasive cases for funding through exhibits of their products at the
New Jersey Technology Council’s annual Venture Fair. This day-long
event at Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset features talks by
venture capital fund partners, and exhibits by 60 new companies
pitching to individual venture capitalists, institutional lenders, and
financial brokers. Cost: $225. Call 856-787-9700 or visit
In addition to the exhibits a small number of pre-selected high
potential firms are making formal presentations throughout the day.
Among them is Automated Threat Detection, launched by John Romanowich.
While an old and successful hand at enterprise startups, this marks
Romanowich’s largest pre-production funding bid. A native of Paramus,
he earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in electrical
engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology by l988.
Within two years he founded his first company, which provided an
integrated home heating and cooling control system. His next venture
was Sarnoff spinoff Pyramid Vision.
Then two years ago Romanowich invented Home Animation – a futuristic
method of linking multiple phones, cable TV, Internet, and music all
together and making each accessible from any room in the house.
His latest venture, Automated Threat Detection, provides an enhanced
coverage system for the whole burgeoning security field. Romanowich’s
core invention consists of a very sophisticated, intelligent camera
that can be programmed to look for any break in acceptable patterns.
If, for example, a property has an off-limits, fenced-in area, the
camera will calmly watch people stroll behind and in front of the
fence. But when someone steps within the parameter, the camera becomes
alarmed and transmits its alarm to a pre-chosen, manned security
center. More sensitive and selective than a motion sensor, the Threat
Detector makes an ideal guard for large outdoor areas or even small
warehouses and airports.
Since the product is expensive and the market huge, Romanowich has hit
the capital trail in search of investors. He knows the route and he is
well aware that investors have a way of bringing up questions today
that you will surely face tomorrow. Romanowich has those answers,
along with a very solid procedure for encouraging and exciting venture
Prove the product. Romanowich pats his 57-page business plan. "The
real key to attracting capital," he says, "is to convince people that
you are taking them into a fast growing market opportunity, and
providing a much needed solution." Investors are much less thrilled
with the innovative features of the product than with its salability.
A product buyers want now translates into immediate growth, swift
return, and a continued expansion over time.
Coming in at the top of a market boom always carries the haunting fear
of a sudden fizzle. Entering an emerging market usually entails a
long, risky wait for returns. The sweet spot lenders look for is the
very outset of demand. By entering the intelligent security business,
Automated Threat Detection joins an industry that has grown from $100
million to $1.5 billion within the last five years. That, Romanowich
hopes, puts it right at the beginning of a surge in demand.
Prove value. "One absolutely vital part of a business presentation is
a step-by-step proof of the value chain," says Romanowich. The
entrepreneur must convince investors that his is a game where
everybody wins. Everyone who comes in touch with this product, from
vendors to customers and end users, must benefit in some noticeable
way. If the Automated Threat Detection camera is adored by the
security companies, but appears too invasive and annoying to the
client whose land is guarded, sales will not be impressive.
Keep a clean line. Whether you are explaining your product’s value to
a panel of venture capitalists or a host of clients, a certain amount
of sales language creeps in. You frame your presentation to create the
best psychological atmosphere."This is fine," says Romanowich, "but
you must keep a clean, separate line between your promises and your
product’s fundamental value." Everyone in your company must be
realistically grounded in the actual capabilities and limits of what
you offer. Otherwise the promises expand, and you end up chasing
promises you cannot fulfill.
As a final hint, neither individuals nor institutions want to feel
enticed or seduced. They want to feel fortunate, secure, and hopeful.
Nothing creates this happy state more than a presentation of honest
expertise and innovation.
— Bart Jackson
Sometimes there is a lot more to it than knowing whether to bow or
shake hands. As an unprecedented number of cultures join our nation’s
business scene, learning all the national and ethnic protocols can
overwhelm even the most eager to please. Of America’s 140 million
workers, more than one out of eight are foreign born. Meanwhile, a
Northeastern University Labor Market study records that the last four
years have seen a 60 percent increase in this immigrant labor, while
the number of native-born workers has actually decreased.
For those seeking to move beyond mere accommodation, on towards a
practical, working understanding, Mercer County Community College
offers a five session course "Intercultural Communications." The first
session takes place on Tuesday, March 8, at 6:30 p.m. Cost: $127. Call
The instructor, Bena Long, founder of Pennington-based Mind Movements,
draws from a host of life experience and varied disciplines. Growing
up in Bridgewater, Long trained as an Olympic-level gymnast before
attending Douglass College, where she earned a B.A. in political
science with a Middle Eastern specialty in l991. She also holds a
master’s degree in intercultural communications.
After graduating Long went to live abroad in Israel, Morocco, and then
Egypt, before starting her human resource business. Her husband, Rob,
an executive with Berlitz, continues to add an international flavor to
"All of us are nervous when we encounter someone from an outside
tribe," says Long. She gives this perspective by placing such novel
situations on a "jitter continuum." Moving to a Third World country in
which you undertake a new job, a new life, and a new language would
probably rate a 10. Having an individual from an entirely strange
culture, e.g. Mongolia or Los Angeles, move into the cubicle next
door, perhaps rates a two. But in all cases, Long insists on her
golden rule: all stress is merely a personal reaction. No situation or
person can give you stress; only you can give yourself stress, and you
alone can take it away. Long’s process for transforming initial
nervousness to comfort, and from there to a solid interpersonal
understanding, begins within.
Learning your boxes. An old proverb notes wisely that if you push your
prejudices out the door, new ones fly right back in the window.
Desperate denial of any stereotypes is obviously futile. Long suggests
a practical review of your own set patterns. What is your personal
modus operandi when beginning a team project? What are your company’s
rules and unwritten boundaries?
Analysis of how you and your firm work not only provides some
understanding of what the newcomer is facing, but it may just reveal
how you are boxing in your thoughts. You doubtless find great
strengths in your habitual work patterns, but if you critique
honestly, you may come across a few unnecessary walls. This should not
be an esoteric exercise, warns Long. Rather study your mind and action
processes like you would in any business plan – then improve them.
Banishing chatter. When two individuals first encounter one another
there is a smorgasbord of information surrounding both. This ranges
from the place chosen, the words spoken, body movement, dress,
accents, tones, weather, and on and on.
The good executive, whom everyone credits with uncanny intuition, is
actually feasting off this smorgasbord of evidence and creating a
The key to partaking in this cultural feast, says Long, is to
eliminate what she calls "mind chatter." That is, if your mind keeps
concentrating on the fact that this person has come from Germany, that
he represents the new company with whom you are merging, and just how
like all Germans he really seems, you lock yourself out from knowing
the individual. She offers a set of physical and mental conditioning
exercises to help students quell mind chatter, and tingle with
listening awareness from a calm, focused space.
One hint: evidence is not codified. No one piece of body language
invariably translates into anything. That subtle squint may be
disapproval, or just a sensitivity to fluorescent lights.
Focusing on individuals. Ideally somewhere in this first encounter
with your new foreign partner, you will stop thinking of him as that
German vice president of sales. He will take on an evolving image of
Fritz Haller, that very aggressive guy with a really good taste in
wines and bad taste in puns.
Once you develop knowledge of this new person as an individual, the
cultural differences slip into second place and you can have fun with
No rule says you have to like this individual. An honestly loathable
soul gains little by being imported. But if you focus on the total
individual, without allowing his cultural differences to absorb all of
your attention, you may just find some strengths you can call on in an
Never has America relied so fully on foreign labor to fuel its
productive fires. And never have so many Americans gone abroad in
various international business ventures. Without a doubt, we will
continue to find ourselves blending into more diverse workplaces. And
just as likely most of us will find ways to turn what was once culture
shock into our own enrichment. It shouldn’t prove too tough. After
all, we are the nation of immigrants.
— Bart Jackson
With so many talented people released from their corporate jobs over
the past two decades, business launches have become ever more frequent
events. For those thinking of jumping in, the Service Core of Retired
Executives (SCORE) presents "How to Start Your Own Business" on
Tuesday, March 8, at 7 p.m. at Merrill Lynch in Princeton. Cost: $40.
Speaker Ben Koenig is one of the 28 retired volunteers comprising
SCORE’s roster of business veterans. As an arm of the Small Business
Administration, SCORE provides a one-on-one mentoring service in which
potential entrepreneurs, as well as new business owners, receive
expert advice from a guide who has walked this path.
Koenig is a sales professional. He graduated from California State
University, Hayward, with a bachelor’s degree in l973. From there he
went straight to UPS, where he remained for 30 years. He retired in
2003 as vice president of global sales. To his students, Koenig
delivers not only a cogent startup blueprint, but also wisdom gained
from three decades of building business for a giant corporation.
The evolution of sales. Anyone launching a company today had better
realize that selling is not at all what it used to be, warns Koenig.
"The whole sales process is more relationship driven," he says. Long
gone are terms such as "pushing the product out the door" or "making a
When lining up initial customers, the new company must present itself
more as providing solutions than selling a commodity. Ideally, you and
your niche hold the answer that potential clients are seeking. Once
your target becomes a client, you must work to maintain a
The evaluation of an idea. How good is your business idea? One solid,
if often cruel, evaluation yardstick is to consider the source. That
is, did this idea spring from some prior knowledge, maybe from a piece
of medical billing software you developed while working as an
hospital’s accountant? Does it have a firm grounding in business
reality? Secondly, what sort of problem does your product solve?
Obviously, you want to bounce this idea off people, while at the same
time being careful to protect it. Sometimes by talking to direct
competitors, already established in the line, you can subtly learn
various cost factors, problems, and tricks of the trade, without
revealing much. Then, you can talk with their current clients and
determine ways in which the competition is not servicing them.
The real composition of the market. Back in the late-l980s a major
builder measured the new wealth gushing into the Princeton area and
decided to join the Route 1 construction boom, building a totally
upscale, top price outside shopping mall. Market research showed great
demographics – folks came to this area with a good deal of
But had the planners talked with a group already dealing with area
consumers, perhaps local landscapers, they would have found out that
this region, for all its individual wealth, was actually quite
thrifty. Whereas the homeowners in Westfield or Short Hills thought
nothing of a $100,000 landscaping bill, equally landed households in
the Princeton area blanched at $20,000. The people had the cash, but
their image did not fit top-price spending. Numbers do not tell the
The bottom line. One of the biggest things that trips up startup
businesses is inaccurate cost requirements. Not only will your initial
funders seek meticulous plans for each penny they loan, but such
realism means literally life or death to your dream.
Koenig suggests first studying the balance sheets of similar
businesses. This invaluable research tool can indicate both hidden
expenses and the percentage of cushion you need. It will also give you
a ball park idea of revenue schedules.
Spend time and if necessary money on business research. Make a buy
list, a lease list, a staff cost list, and production cost list. Then
figure how long you will need credit before cash begins to flow back
into the company. A little fudge factor is necessary, but if you round
up to the nearest million, the angels will surely turn you away from
To those who want to go it on their own, but who feel shaky at the
thought of walking that high wire unaccompanied, Koenig suggests a
magic solution: franchising. It requires more personal money to get
involved, but it is an easier process, and you have a business model
handed to you.
— Bart Jackson
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