Our History

In 1918, with the world beginning its recovery from World War I and confronting a global influenza pandemic, leaders of seven N.J. hospitals gathered in Newark to discuss the challenges and changes facing hospitals. A united organization was needed, they agreed, to provide leadership on these common concerns.

That was the genesis of the New Jersey Hospital Association.

The original seven hospitals (and their present-day versions) are:

  • Newark City Hospital (now University Hospital)
  • Muhlenberg Hospital (now an ambulatory care facility, part of Hackensack Meridian Health)
  • Elizabeth General Hospital (now Trinitas Regional Medical Center)
  • Morristown Memorial Hospital (today, Morristown Medical Center)
  • Paterson General Hospital (today, St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital)
  • Christ Hospital (today, CarePoint Health Christ Hospital)
  • Hudson County Tuberculosis Hospital and Sanitarium (which closed in 1961.)

1918 was a turning point for hospitals and healthcare. They were transitioning from their original role as refugees providing comfort for the sick, poor and destitute to more modern and complex care.

New Jersey’s healthcare community became leaders with several national “firsts”:

  • The first state to champion public policy for the humane care of those with mental illness
  • The first state to use penicillin to treat patients
  • The first state to widely adopt antiseptic theories in health facilities
  • The first state to develop organized hospital volunteer programs.

As one of the nation’s first state hospital associations, NJHA also was credited with several “firsts”:

  • The first hospital disaster drill
  • The first state Health Research and Educational Trust affiliate
  • The first state association to have all of the state’s hospitals in its membership
  • And one of the first state associations to add post-acute providers to its membership, in 1997. Today, NJHA’s post-acute members number more 300.

Through the decades, NJHA and its members evolved through rapid change in the healthcare landscape:

  • In the 1930s with the nation struggling from the stock market crash of 1929, NJHA joined with 17 of its members to form the Hospital Service Plan of New Jersey – the first precursor to the Blue Cross plans.
  • In the 1940s, medical advances from the battlefields of World War II made medical care more complex and sophisticated. And NJHA hired its first full-time executive, J. Harold Johnson, and developed its first annual budget – a hefty $12,000.
  • In the 1950 and ‘60s, a changing world focused NJHA’s attention on emergency planning, workforce development and the first use of computers to aggregate hospital data statewide.
  • And in 1970, NJHA built its Alexander Road headquarters in Princeton as a “center” for the various Association affiliates and activities.

New Jersey continued to lead throughout the 1980s. It was the first state to adopt the DRG reimbursement model that became national policy. And in 1987, the Uncompensated Care Trust Fund Act made New Jersey one of just two states in the nation where all individuals are guaranteed care at all hospitals, regardless of their ability to pay. That remains today as part of New Jersey’s healthcare tradition of compassionate care and community benefit.

In the 1990s and into the new millennium, the focus began to shift to a challenge that remains today: providing top-quality care in the most cost-effective manner. NJHA formed the Institute for Quality and Patient Safety in 2002 to lead members on a journey toward the best, and safest, care possible; pioneered the gainsharing program in 2003 that became a national payment model for aligning hospital and physician incentives; and greatly expanded its focus to the full continuum of providers caring for people in the community.

As NJHA enters its second century, we’re confronting a new kind of healthcare landscape: one driven by wellness instead of sickness; one where data and technology open possibilities that are limited only by our vision; and one where NJHA’s goal can be very neatly summed up in two words: good health.