Red Bank: Expansion Starts on Parker Family Health Center


Source: Asbury Park Press

The Parker Family Health Center in Red Bank, which provides free medical care for uninsured residents in Monmouth County, is expanding, so more people can get that kind of help.

The new two-story addition on Shrewsbury Avenue will include two new exam rooms, three vaccination or blood-drawing rooms, a consultation room, a room for a social worker, seven offices or conference rooms, an elevator and two bathrooms. 

Suzy Dyer, executive director of the clinic, said she hopes the expansion will increase the number of patients the center could see and grow the clinic’s educational outreach. She said the center saw 10,000 visits last year. 

At the groundbreaking for the new addition, New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy said the expansion would help the center add services and help in areas that “we hope we don’t have to deal with, but the fact of the matter is, we do.” 

She said, “If everybody is fed, if everybody is healthy, then we’re all going to benefit and all rise together.” 

Red Band Mayor Pat Menna said he remembers coming to Red Bank as a child from Italy and meeting the two Dr. James Parkers, the father-and-son team who opened their medical practice to anyone in the area, mostly serving Black residents and Italian immigrants. The two would one day would be honored with the unusually named Drs. James Parker Boulevard, which runs through the west side of town.

“I was an Italian immigrant, my parents didn’t speak any English,” Menna said. “There were very few doctors at that time, in the mid-1960s, that would have opened their office doors to people of different cultures.” 

He remembers the doctors would start seeing patients at 5 a.m., so they could take care of them before their patients’ works shifts began.

As Dr. James Parker Jr. began thinking about retirement, Dr. Donald Warner and Dr. Eugene Cheslock worked to take over the reins of the Parker family’s legacy. In 2000, the Parker Family Health Center opened its clinic. 

Dr. Cheslock said, “Unfortunately, the need for what we do is not going away and unfortunately is ever increasing.” He hopes one day there would be a free health clinic in every county in New Jersey. 

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