PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
August 6, 2012

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey’s Community Health Centers Strengthen The Health Care Safety Net - By Health Commissioner, Mary E. O'Dowd

This is National Health Center Week, a time to showcase the comprehensive and patient-centered care provided by New Jersey's 20 community health centers and their 105 satellite facilities. This year's theme is "Powering Healthier Communities," which celebrates the key role health centers play in improving the health of our communities.

Governor Chris Christie has signed a proclamation honored New Jersey's health centers for providing a medical home and cost effective care to all those who come through their doors-whether they have private insurance, are uninsured or participate in Medicaid or Medicare.

New Jersey's community health centers are treasured assets in their communities. That is why Governor Chris Christie provided a record $50 million in the current state budget to reimburse health centers for the medical care they provide to the uninsured. Since the Governor took office he as increased funding to health centers $10 million. In addition, the state Department of Health provides nearly $9 million in grants to health centers for an array of health services including immunizations, cancer screening, HIV counseling, testing and treatment, and for a program that teaches patients how to better manage their diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

In rural areas as well as urban areas, community health centers provide prenatal care, well baby care and immunizations to prevent childhood diseases like whooping cough and measles. They provide screenings for blood pressure, cancer, cholesterol and HIV. Many community health centers provide dental care and mental health care and have mobile vans to underserved populations, like migrant workers. They serve the homeless and the mentally ill. Most have extended evening and weekend hours and some have pharmacies on-site. 

Community health centers, sometimes called Federally Qualified Health Centers or FQHCs-first opened in 1969 in Plainfield and Trenton and they have been making our communities healthier ever since. Recent studies have found that health centers reduce Emergency Department use by Medicaid patients and increase health education for uninsured patients and appropriate care for those with diabetes.

Last year, community health centers provided care to 450,000 patients during 1.4 million visits. Many of those patients would use hospital emergency rooms for primary care if they did not have a health center to serve as their family doctor. 

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito and I have visited many of New Jersey's community health centers-from urban West New York to the rural farmland of Salem and we have seen the tremendous difference health centers make in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

To kickoff National Health Center Week, I will join the Neighborhood Health Services Corp. in Plainfield on Monday to honor 16 community outreach workers. I also plan to visit the Henry J. Austin Health Center in Trenton, which has a different themed event each day-for children, for women, for men and a day in celebration of prevention.


Last Reviewed: 8/8/2012