On September 20, 1971, the Greater Freehold Area Hospital – built on farmland – opened its doors to its very first patients. Fifty years later, that humble 120-bed rural hospital has evolved into the comprehensive healthcare system CentraState. A leading regional healthcare organization that provides state-of-the-art health services, CentraState now boasts a 284-bed acute-care hospital, a vibrant health and wellness campus, three award-winning senior living communities, a charitable foundation, and four local satellite health pavilions.
As the hospital celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, CentraState Healthcare System president and CEO John T. Gribbin says that redefining what it means to be a community hospital has been a main focus for the organization throughout its history.
“The hallmark of a community hospital is the ability to stay in tune with what is going on in your community and understanding the disparate needs that surface,” Gribbin says.
He adds that various program initiatives, as well as CentraState’s Star and Barry Tobias Health Awareness Center, which offers a range of services designed to maintain health and better manage chronic conditions through education, management techniques and coaching, have helped to strengthen the connections between the health system and community.
“We’ve managed to build some strong bridges into other communities and institutions,” Gribbin says.
The power of these relationships were most recently put on full display during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had a tremendous outpouring of philanthropy from the community [during the pandemic] – and I am not talking about monetary in this instance,” Gribbin says. “Hundreds of people donated needed things to the hospital like masks, sanitizers and all sorts of PPE day-in and day-out. I think that reflects some of the relationships that we’ve worked hard to build over the years.”
Further redefining what it means to be a community hospital, Gribbin points to CentraState’s Family Medicine Residency Program, which, via a partnership with Rutgers University, graduates six new family care physicians every year.
Gribbin says the goal is to provide graduates the tools needed to excel in any future family medicine practice environment.
“That’s not something you’d typically see in a traditional community hospital. Teaching programs are complex and expensive, but we feel it’s part of our obligation to our community,” Gribbin says.
Ultimately, Gribbin hopes to continue building upon the success that CentraState has enjoyed over the past 50 years.
“I feel it’s important for an organization to not forget its roots, but the 50th anniversary is also a great time to look forward,” he says. “We will appreciate where we came from and appreciate the people who came before us, and commit ourselves to continuing to get better.”
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