Long Island Jewish Medical Center's new 10-story glass tower houses...

Long Island Jewish Medical Center's new 10-story glass tower houses the Katz Women's Hospital and the Zuckerberg Pavillion, named after North Shore-LIJ trustee Roy Zuckerberg. (Dec. 8, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

The North Shore-LIJ Health System Monday announced an alliance with Hackensack University Health Network, the largest in northern New Jersey, to collaborate on ways to improve medical care and share approaches to dealing with the pending national health care overhaul.

"Health care organizations are trying to figure out how to change from the current model -- caring for sick people -- and move into the wellness business," North Shore-LIJ spokesman Terry Lynam said.

The health systems will not exchange money, and their staff, operations and governing bodies will remain separate -- similar to an alliance North Shore-LIJ announced in May with Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

The partnership will allow the noncompeting health care systems "to have candid conversations and share experiences as we're trying to transition to a new model of care," Lynam said.

Those discussions may range from sharing ways to improve the quality of medical care and patient safety to figuring out how to establish health care organizations that will be in compliance with looming federal health care mandates.

The new partnership will also deal with other "hot button issues," such as how to most efficiently and inexpensively treat people with chronic diseases, Lynam said.

In cases where one health system has medical expertise in a specialty the other does not, patients may also be referred to the partner, Lynam said.

The Hackensack University Health Network, whose centerpiece is the 775-bed Hackensack University Medical Center, decided to ally with North Shore-LIJ "based on its reputation as a highly respected organization that has formed successful partnerships with independent hospitals in the greater New York City and Long Island region," said its chief executive, Robert Garrett.

The New Jersey network has 8,000 employees and 1,600 doctors.

North Shore-LIJ, the largest integrated health care provider in the state, has more than 43,000 employees and 9,000 doctors.

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