New Jersey Celebrates National Health Center Week

Sources: NJ Dept. of Health;

To showcase the comprehensive health care provided at more than 100 Federally Qualified Health Centers across New Jersey, about 70 events are scheduled during National Health Center Week (Aug. 13-19) – including a kickoff event with Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett in Jersey City on Monday.

Events will include free medical and dental screenings, information sessions about cancer prevention, improving birth outcomes, diabetes, nutrition and fitness, as well as back-to-school giveaways, food and entertainment for families.

“Community health centers are treasured assets in their communities, providing comprehensive care, weekend and evening hours and, in some cases, integrated mental, physical and behavioral health care,” Commissioner Bennett said. “They know their communities best, and that’s what makes them successful.”

The National Health Center Week 2017 theme is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: The Key to Healthier Communities.” The theme emphasizes the diverse populations that health centers serve, including the homeless, residents of public housing, migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, and children who might otherwise have difficulty accessing health care.

For more than 50 years, community health centers have provided care to millions of New Jersey residents and effectively helped medically-underserved patients overcome barriers to health care, improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs across the nation.

“By ensuring healthcare delivery in all 21 counties, our health centers help to promote population health across rural and urban areas of New Jersey,” Commissioner Bennett said.

New Jersey has 23 community health centers and 117 licensed service delivery sites and mobile units that ensure access to healthcare and provide a healthcare safety net for residents. The Department provides $30 million in the current state budget to support the care of uninsured and underinsured residents.

In 2016, New Jersey’s FQHCs provided more than 1.65 million medical and dental patient visits for more than 500,000 individuals. Nearly 28 percent of these patients are uninsured and 53 percent are on Medicaid. The services are provided regardless of the patient’s ability to pay, and fees are based on a sliding fee scale. Click below for:

New Jersey Federally Qualified Health Centers

New Jersey Health Care Week Events

Source: New Jersey Spotlight


To underscore its point about access, CarePoint submitted its own waiver request in January to build a satellite emergency department (SED) in Greenville to address the need it said the Barnabas facility in Bayonne couldn’t meet. The organization is seeking to build a remote emergency operation in Greenville itself, about 14 blocks south of the former Greenville Hospital site on John F. Kennedy Boulevard. The SED would be linked to CarePoint’s Christ Hospital, about six miles away in Jersey City; a DOH representative said the waiver request was under review.

“By providing blended data of Bayonne and Greenville, an impoverished and largely minority section of Jersey City that (JCMC) abandoned nine years prior, they are trying to make the Department believe that the population in the two areas is the same,” CarePoint said in a letter to the state. According to its own study, CarePoint noted, “problems of access do not exist in Bayonne but instead exist ONLY in Greenville.”

And between January and March, CarePoint officials said they have submitted applications for a half-dozen other SEDs at various locations in Hudson and Bergen counties; all would connect with the organization’s local hospitals, Bayonne Medical Center, Christ Hospital, and Hoboken University Medical Center.

Until it granted Barnabas the SED waiver for Bayonne – a separate licensing process is still pending – the DOH had approved eight satellite emergency facilities since 2004, according to a search on the department’s website. All but two are located in South Jersey or in shore counties. The most recent was in December 2014, when officials gave Virtua Health System permission to close its West Jersey Hospital in Berlin, a rural Camden County town, and open a remote emergency department. The department hasn’t OK’d a waiver request since 2010, when Lourdes Health System worked with Deborah Heart and Lung Center to open a new emergency site in Browns Mills, Burlington County.

According to the DOH approval of the Bayonne SED, based on data submitted by Barnabas and its own analysis, the new emergency facility there will serve an important need. The JCMC emergency room was designed to handle 57,000 visits annually, but regularly treats more than 80,000 annually, with more than a third coming from Bayonne and Greenville, according to the Barnabas application. The overcrowding is squeezing out vulnerable patients: nearly 4 percent of Greenville residents and more than 3 percent of Bayonne dwellers leave the ER without treatment, it said.

But that argument didn’t wash with representatives of the National Action Network, who wrote to state Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett in late June to raise their concerns and request a meeting to discuss what they called a “healthcare crisis” in Jersey City and Hudson County in general. They noted the county’s high rate of premature death, a high teen birth rate, poor management of chronic diseases and a “near outbreak level” of sexually transmitted diseases.

“If JCMC cares so much about the future of community healthcare in New Jersey they should be building new services in Greenville, not building an emergency department that is not needed in Bayonne,” the clergy members wrote.

Source: Press of Atlantic City

After her son was revived from a heroin overdose in Atlantic City, Elisa Ford wrote a letter thanking the police officer who used Narcan on her son that night.

Atlantic City police officer Joe Bereheiko had never gotten any correspondence like that in all the years he had worked as a first responder. He remembers the February 2015 night vividly, as Ford’s son was the first of many people he would go on to save from an overdose.

Ford said she knew little about addiction — it wasn’t until her 19-year-old son pulled up his sleeves and showed her the track marks on his arm that she was thrust into that world. It wasn’t easy finding resources, but Ford eventually got connected with family support groups, 12-step programs, treatment centers and a therapist who specialized in helping families touched by addiction.

Tonia Ahern, Atlantic and Cape May county advocacy team coordinator for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, said advocates recognized both families and first responders could benefit from programs teaching people about local addiction outreach and support services. The NCADD chapter, in partnership with the Mental Health Association in Atlantic County, plans to host a weekly family support group and first responder training sessions starting this fall. Ahern has a son who has struggled with addiction.

“Police officers have said, ‘I don’t know what to do for families. We see them struggling, but I don’t know what to do for them,’” Ahern said. “Training for police and other departments is to help them get those resources. The new class for families will provide the education piece for people to continue with support.”

Atlantic County has one of the highest number of Narcan deployments in the state, with 242 uses from January through March, according to the state Attorney General’s Office. Neighboring counties Cumberland, Cape May and Ocean all recorded 100 or less.

Officer Bereheiko said several years ago, he wouldn’t have been able to help if a parent or loved one of an overdose victim asked him about what to do. Now, if he comes in contact with family members seeking help, he at least can put them in touch with Jose Gonzalez, the Police Department’s liaison to the migrant and homeless communities, mental health agencies and addiction resources.

The relationships between agencies and first responders give Ford hope more can be done for people like her son: “This is an epidemic. People need to educate themselves. My son is a really cool person, a great person to know. To them, he could have just been another addict, but he’s somebody. He’s my somebody, and I’m so grateful to Officer Bereheiko for saving his life.”

Summer Child Car Safety: · Safety Checklist
Res-Q-Me™ Window-Shattering Tool · Other Car Hazards To Children

An average of 37 children die needlessly every year from vehicular heatstroke. This year, twenty-eight children have died already.

“No one thinks this can happen to them, and that is why technology along with education is critical to preventing these tragedies,” stated Janette Fennell, founder and president of, the leading national nonprofit child safety organization working solely to prevent injuries and deaths of children in and around motor vehicles.

“This can and does happen to the most loving, responsible and attentive parents; no one is immune.”

In June, the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act (HOT CARS Act of 2017, H.R. 2801), was introduced in Congress, which would help prevent children from being needlessly killed and injured when unknowingly left alone in vehicles. The bi-partisan effort has received widespread support from more than twenty-five public health, consumer and safety organizations; experts in the neurosciences; and families who have lost their child or have children who were seriously injured due to child vehicular heatstroke.

“If there had been a simple chime to alert me of my son’s presence, none of this would have happened” said Miles Harrison, father of Chase, who died in a hot car in 2008.

“How can this be that in our great country, it is not mandatory for the simplest alarm to be required in all cars? Children are dying unnecessarily. Families are being destroyed unnecessarily. This has got to stop.”

“We encourage individuals in all communities to take action if you see a child alone in a vehicle. Call 911 immediately and if the child seems to be in imminent danger, break the window furthest away from the child to rescue them,” stressed Amber Andreasen, director of The organization offers a small tool called Res-Q-Me™, an all-in-one seatbelt cutter and window breaker that fits on your keychain. The spring-loaded device is tapped on the corner of a car window and the glass is shattered.


Rep. Brian Mast, (R-FL), who took office this January, is an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan lost both of his legs in 2010 from a roadside bomb, championed the “Oath of Exit” on the House floor last month because servicemembers are known for honoring their commitments – and if they commit to contacting fellow veterans before harming themselves, they’d do it.

The Oath of Exit as included in the House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act:

“I, ________, recognizing that my oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, has involved me and my fellow members in experiences that few persons, other than our peers, can understand, do solemnly swear (or affirm) to continue to be the keeper of my brothers- and sisters-in-arms and protector of the United States and the Constitution; to preserve the values I have learned; to maintain my body and my mind; and to not bring harm to myself without speaking to my fellow veterans first. I take this oath freely and without purpose of evasion, so help me God.”

But though it’s well-intentioned, the oath – essentially a no-suicide contract – is an outdated notion proven not to work, and it could even backfire, some experts say.

Craig Bryan, a psychologist and executive director of the National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah, says, “At best, it would be a neutral effect, but it could make things worse.” When struggling with suicidal thoughts, veterans who sign the commitment could feel an increased sense of shame and guilt, he added.

Caitlin Thompson, the former director of suicide prevention programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs and now a vice president of Cohen Veterans Network agrees, stating that experts in suicide prevention have been discouraging these types of contracts for the past 10 years:

“It isn’t just that it didn’t work — it actually had the opposite effect. It made it so that the person who signed it wouldn’t talk with their provider about feeling suicidal because of this fear of, ‘I signed this promise.’”

The oath was included in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that passed the House on July 14. Senators are on recess for the next few weeks but are expected to take up work on the NDAA after they return Sept. 5.

Source: New Jersey Spotlight


On July 24, the state Department of Health granted Barnabas permission to open an SED in a sprawling new building it has constructed in Bayonne. Clinical care would be connected to Jersey City Medical Center, the organization’s only full hospital in Hudson County. The facility — expected to see a ribbon cutting in the weeks to come — is five blocks from an existing emergency room attached to the local community hospital, Bayonne Medical Center, which is owned by CarePoint.

In its November application, RWJBarnabas — the result of a 2015 merger — said the SED in Bayonne would help alleviate overcrowding at the JCMC emergency room and provide new healthcare options for residents in the Greenville section of Jersey City, who now have few options for medical care. In 2008, JCMC closed Greenville Hospital, a community hospital it operated there, which had served patients for more than a century but had fallen on hard times.

In approving the waiver for Barnabas, the DOH essentially overruled pleas from CarePoint to block the Bayonne SED, which it feared would cut into business at Bayonne Medical Center. CarePoint presented its own data to show there is no need for additional emergency services in Bayonne and argued that such a facility is not easily accessible to patients in Greenville. Barnabas has a responsibility to first exhaust all options for an SED location in Greenville. CarePoint urged the state in a January letter that “implored” regulators to deny the JCMC application for Bayonne.

But hospitals can also ask the state to waive this requirement if they can “demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Department that the proposed location will serve to eliminate or substantially mitigate problems of access to appropriate emergency care.” The state considers emergency room data, hospital-volume trends, and patient preference, among many other factors, but geography is not part of the picture in assessing waivers.

The former Greenville Hospital site reopened a few years ago and now provides some skeletal services, which Barnabas has pledged to sustain. But the organization has said the building does not have the capacity to support an SED at that location. Instead, the organization looked south, to Bayonne, and in late 2014 began the process to obtain a waiver and other approvals from the department to locate a remote emergency room in another location. (The campus for the new facility, which will offer a range of services, occupies much of the block southwest of Broadway and 24th Street in Bayonne.)

“RWJBarnabas Health is committed to improving health care for New Jersey residents,” the organization said in a statement. “We strongly support enhanced access for quality care for all of Hudson County, including Bayonne and the Greenville section of Jersey City.”

“We continue to move forward with our plans to expand medical services — including the Satellite Emergency Department at the new Bayonne facility — in the near future, and remain steadfastly committed to providing health care services through our Jersey City Medical Center at Greenville facility as well,” the statement continued. “Our services at Greenville as well as the soon-to-be-opened Bayonne facility promise a depth of services and activity which will generate access to high quality care throughout Hudson County.”