Lead Photo Caption: left to right: Raymond Fredericks, Regional President, Central Market; Sandra Powell-Elliott, Vice President, Life Sciences and Innovation; Andrew Pecora, M.D., President of Physician Enterprise and Chief Innovation Officer; Hammie the Bear, Robert Garrett, Hackensack Meridian Health CEO; Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, D-11 and Kelli O'Brien, RD, MBC, Chief Hospital Executive

MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ: Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most integrated health network, as part of their successful innovation program, has officially launched a new think tank coined 'Bear’s Den'.

Launched across all 17 Hackensack Meridian Health medical centers, Bear's Den is designed to encourage the network’s 34,000 team members to bring forth their best ideas to consistantly improve care delivery and enhance patient satisfaction.  An incubator to nurture the best of the best ideas in patient care innovation, developed from those who know best the needs of the patients they care for. It's a place where innovative ideas are presented to hospital team members so they can evaluate, prioritize and choose to implement new patient care. 

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On Friday, March 15th, Bear's Den was celebrated with an official ribbon cutting at 8:30am at Riverview Hospital in Red Bank, and was immediately followed by a 9:30am ribbon cutting at Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel.

Both ceremonies were well attended by hospital staff, community leaders and executive team members. The Bear's Den mascot Hammie, which stands for; 'Hackensack and Meridian Making Innovative Experiences,' mingled with team members and posed for photos outside of his new den. The morning at both Bayshore and Riverview hosptials was a celebration of employee appreciation and the Bear's Den enhancement to the existing culture of providing an environment for the best possible patient care innovation.

At the Riverview Hospital ceremony, Assemblyman and Deputy Majority Leader Eric Houghtaling presented the Hackensack Meridian Health team with an official proclamation on behalf of his office and those he works closely with. 

“Bear’s Den has been a winning strategy for Hackensack Meridian Health by supporting the next breakthroughs in care delivery. Our dedicated team members know best how to innovate from their valuable frontline experience,’’ said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.

Riverview COO Kelli O'Brien opened with, "Innovation is in our DNA..."

VIDEO: Riverview COO Kelli O'Brien, Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert C. Garrett and other Executive Team Members speak at Riverview Ribbon Cutting: 


Bayshore Chief Operating Officer Frank Citara welcomed everyone to the Bayshore ribbon cutting event commenting, "Bear's Den is another initiative that demonstrates the innovative culture that Hackensack Meridian Health enables for all of it's employees. We've already started using our Bear's Den at Bayshore Medical Center, and it's providing a great space for our team members to take a creative idea sharing break."  

Citara then introduced CEO, Robert C. Garrett who commented, "We talk about innovation in our DNA, well Dr. Andrew Pecora's DNA is overflowing with innovation. He's quite a visionary and this whole concept is because of his vision. I'd also like to thank him for his leadership. Dr. Pecora has the vision, but it is Sandra Powell-Elliott that is such a talented administrator to execute upon that vision. Thank you Sandra...." Garrett also thanked Regional President Raymond Fredericks for his dedication and leadership to the project.

Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso and Mayor Eric Hinds were also introduced and recognized for their support of Bayshore Medical Center. Both were in attendance at the Bayshore Hospital ribbon cutting to welcome Bear's Den to Holmdel. Dimaso commented, "Today is a really special day for someone like myself..Bayshore has always been one of those places where people love you and care about you like your own family..."

VIDEO: Holmdel Mayor Eric Hinds speaks at Bayshore Hosptial ribbon cutting: 

The Hackensack Meridian Health board established a $25 million investment in innovation to bring breakthroughs in health care delivery to market.  Andrew Pecora, M.D., president of physician enterprise and Chief Innovation Officer comments, "The power of ideas is better than anything else... It takes the right culture. You can't innovate if you don't have the right culture. Second, you need the right environment...we created an environment where if you and your colleague have an idea you can come to a place to collaborate. The last thing is you have to have follow through and we have that because we have the great fortune of having Sandra Powell- Elliot as part of our organization...she and her team have done an amazing job..." 

VIDEO: Listen to Sandra Powell- Elliot speak at the Riverview Bear's Den Ribbon Cutting:


To date, the Bear’s Den program has supported two major innovations:  

The first is Boston-based Pillo Health, an in-home digital care management company. Pillo, a small robot leverages voice-first technology and artificial intelligence to connect patients at home with their care teams and family members.  Pillo reminds people to take medication at the appropriate time, dispenses their medications, digitally coordinates prescription refills...  Pillo also connects individuals in their homes with physicians, caregivers and loved ones.

Secondly, Hackensack Meridian Health has invested in PurpleSun, which utilizes a form of ultraviolet light energy to disinfect care areas in seconds. It has been piloted in operating rooms, post-acute care units, intensive care and emergency departments and has reported a 98 percent effectiveness in eliminating microorganisms in those areas, according to recent reports published in the American Journal of Infection Control. PurpleSun's mission is to transform healthcare by preventing hospital infections. Hackensack Meridian Health is investing in that mission to better protect its patients. 

Hackensack Meridian Health also joined with the New Jersey Innovation Institute, an affiliate of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, bringing together engineers, scientists, health care experts and others to launch innovations to improve health care delivery. Hackensack Meridian Health created an Innovation Center where aspiring companies present their concepts to the center’s ideation group. Those deemed ready are presented to the “Bear’s Den” group of Hackensack Meridian’s Innovation Center to decide on investment.  By creating designated space in the network’s 17 hospitals, staff members from Bear’s Den will meet team members on site to discuss their ideas. Additionally, entrepreneurs will periodically visit the hospital locations and share their inspiring stories with team members to encourage them to innovate.

Launched in 2017, Bear’s Den consists of a panel of experts; CEO Robert C. Garrett, leading physicians, key network executives, venture capitalists and patent attorneys, who gather regularly to vet proposals from entrepreneurs. The health network’s novel incubator has vetted many products and strategies to streamline care delivery, reduce infections, lower hospital readmissions and help patients partner in their care with physicians.

MORE ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH: Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, and Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood; and two rehabilitation hospitals – JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick; and a behavioral health hospital, Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead.

Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has 33,000 team members, and 6,500 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The network’s notable distinctions include having four hospitals among the top 10 in New Jersey by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and Top 150 Places to Work in Healthcare/2018 by Becker’s Healthcare. 

Hackensack Meridian Health partnered with Seton Hall University to launch the only private medical school in New Jersey – Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.

For additional information, please visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org

For more informaiton about Bayshore Hospital click here

For more information about Riverview Hospital click here.