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Princeton Healthcare System exploring deals

The board of Princeton Healthcare System, which less than three years ago opened a new hospital in Plainsboro, N.J., has decided it's time to "evaluate the option to partner with another healthcare system," chief executive Barry S. Rabner told doctors in an email Friday.

The board of Princeton Healthcare System, which less than three years ago opened a new hospital in Plainsboro, N.J., has decided it's time to "evaluate the option to partner with another healthcare system," chief executive Barry S. Rabner told doctors in an email Friday.

"Partnering with another healthcare provider could help us build on our position of strength," Rabner said in the letter. "It could help PHCS to adapt to new regulations and new and dramatically different ways in which health care is remibursed," he said.

Princeton Healthcare borrowed $355 million to build its replacement hospital in Plainsboro. It has reduced that debt by $50 million using proceeds from the sale of the old campus and through regular payments, Rabner said.

The tax-exempt system did not disclose its consolidated revenue for 2014 in the communication with physicians, but it said its operating profit margin was a strong 7.3 percent and that revenue was up 4.7 percent.

Kaufman Hall, the same firm that is helping Crozer-Keystone Health System explore whether to surrender its independence, is also working with Princeton Healthcare.

Aria Health, in Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County, is also exploring possible deals.

Meanwhile, the two biggest academic medical centers in Philadelphia, Penn Medicine and Jefferson Health, are busy with acquisitions. Jefferson recently aquired Abington Health, in Montgomery County. Penn is taking over Lancaster General Health, in Lancaster, Pa.

If Princeton Healthcare lands a deep-pocketed partner, that could put significant pressure on Capital Health, in the Trenton area, which has more than $700 million debt, in part from the construction of a new hospital in Hopewell.

hbrubaker@phillynews.com

215-854-4651

@InqBrubaker