Source: The Daily Journal
A vision of health care services for those who have trouble paying for it is a little more in focus at one of the region’s largest medical nonprofits.
CompleteCare Health Network’s long-planned medical campus on a 3-acre property on West Sherman Avenue is officially cleared to start construction.
J. Curtis Edwards, its president and chief executive officer, was joined by his retired predecessor, Gil Walter, at the site for a groundbreaking for the $5 million facility.
Edwards ticked off the obstacles that have slowed down the project, from petty materials theft to funding uncertainty to bureaucratic friction. A December opening is the goal, he said. “But today, we do have the letter from the state of New Jersey … giving us permission for us to start construction here at this site,” Edwards said.
The surprise announcement was an honor being paid to the organization’s chairwoman and longtime “soldier,” Gwendolyn Gould — the facility’s full title will be the CompleteCare Vineland Health Campus Gwendolyn Gould Center for Community Health Care.
Edwards noted that Gould has been with the organization for almost 40 years, not much less than the time it has existed. “But she’s a tireless crusader for social change and an advocate for the most vulnerable in the communities that we serve,” Edwards said.
“I want to thank all of you so much for this honor,” Gould said. “It’s more than a lifetime dream.”
The organization recently received a two-year extension on federal funding, which provides about 70 percent of its budget.
“This is the program that some of the people want to eradicate across the country,” Gould said. “Don’t ever let it happen. The fight to continue funds is cooling down now, but it’ll only come back.”
Edwards said the paperwork obstacles to opening aren’t entirely gone. Site improvements can start, but the organization still lacks even one work permit from city government. He nudged Mayor Ruben Bermudez on that point.
The facility is going up at the site of a former restaurant. It will have 19,619 square feet of space, divided mainly among 27 examination rooms.
The medical service specialties to be offered will include pediatrics; family medicine; internal medicine; podiatry; opthamology; optometry; obstetrics; gynecology; mental health counseling; phlebotomy; and a multi-purpose room for diabetes education.
Dr. Jazmine Harris, a pediatrician and interim chief medical officer, said CompleteCare handled 20,000 patients in 2014 at area facilities, “so the 27 exam rooms that we’ll have at our new facility will definitely serve us well on our way to continuing to take care of our patients,” Harris said.
Dr. Donna Jones, the nonprofit’s dental director, expects at least 6,000 patients a year and 10,000 patient visits. “And I think it will probably increase because we do have a really good reputation in the community for being compassionate to our patients with our Disney-style community service offerings,” Jones said.