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AtlantiCare Outlines $1B Plan for Medical School, Expanded Facilities

Christopher South
AtlantiCare President and CEO Michael Charlton presenting the company’s expansion plan at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City April 10.

By Christopher South

ATLANTIC CITY — AtlantiCare’s top executive has detailed a six-year plan to establish a medical school in the region and create what he called a “medical city” on the AtlantiCare Mainland campus in Pomona. The plan also includes creating the region’s first cancer institute.

At the presentation of the plan, held on April 10 at Boardwalk Hall, AtlantiCare President and CEO Michael Charlton outlined a $1 billion vision for developing AtlantiCare, saying, “We need to be willing to try new things and be daring.”

He first announced partnerships with Drexel and Stockton universities to bring a medical education institution to Atlantic City. He also outlined plans to offer services to meet basic needs in Atlantic City, including providing medical, behavioral and nutrition services, and launching a home ownership program.

Joining Charlton at the presentation of the plan, called Vision 2030, were Charles Cairns, senior vice president of medical affairs at Drexel, and Joe Bertolini, president of Stockton.

Cairns said this would be an opportunity to expand services to what he called an underserved community in Atlantic City. Drexel has experience, he said, reaching out to another undeserved community, Reading, Pennsylvania, providing a health clinic, street clinic and food pantries as part if its services.

“Our students have already embedded themselves in Reading,” he said.

Bertolini expressed a willingness for Stockton to take on the role of providing more training for nurses, social workers and other health-care professionals.

Charlton said Stockton University, situated on the same campus as AtlantiCare Mainland, is already a partner with its nursing program and MBA program. He said AtlantiCare and Stockton have been working hand-in-hand. “When we approached Drexel it was AtlantiCare and Stockton coming in,” he said.

He said the number of jobs created by the AtlantiCare expansion through Vision 2030 should essentially double its team members, going from about 6,500 employees to 11,000 to 13,000.

The company plans to increase its market share in the region by 5%, grow to a $2 billion organization and expand the emergency department.

As to growing its market share, Charlton spoke about the willingness of AtlantiCare to invest $1 billion-plus in the community, including establishing the region’s first cancer institute, at the Mainland campus.

“We intend to raise our level of care from excellent to world-class,” he said.

Charlton said the plan would include partnerships with the Cleveland Cancer Care Center, which has national and international partnerships, and with the Global Neuroscience Institute, headquartered in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Charlton, who has been in his position for about six months, was born and raised in Atlantic City and subsequently moved 4 miles away, to Ventnor. He has seen the city’s highs and lows.

“Absolutely. I have seen the good, I’ve seen the bad, and I’ve always envisioned what it could be. That is what drives me,” he said during a phone interview with the Herald. “The work is mission-driven, not by politics or economics. There is a need in the community, and we’ve got to be accountable.”

Charlton said the board of directors at AtlantiCare is behind him, making the financial commitment required for such an expansion. “When I was selected the mission was made clear – to support the community and serve to the best of my ability,” he said, adding that the company has a very strong organizational statement with an AA- bond rating.

He said AtlantiCare expects to cut the ribbon on the new facility in 30 to 36 months. “We are working on the financial model and the location,” he added.

The company’s plans include reducing food insecurity for patients by 6%, reducing unsheltered homelessness by 20%, expanding life expectancy by five years and increasing annual fundraising by 20%.

Other goals presented by AtlantiCare include building on a clinical career program to nurture talent locally that is already underway, and equipping team members with best-in-class learning and development.

Thoughts? Questions? Call Christopher South at 609-886-8600 x-128 or email csouth@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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