Menendez Addresses Virtua Healthcare Community, Presents Healthcare Initiatives For New Jersey's Families

Menendez Addresses Virtua Healthcare Community, Presents Healthcare Initiatives For New Jersey's Families

Announces $200,000 for Virtua Health's Cancer Treatment Equipment Project, Menendez highlights healthcare initiatives for women, children and underserved communities

Voorhees - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez today addressed the Virtua Healthcare's Board, Administration and guests to discuss some of the healthcare initiatives he has taken on in the United States Senate. Sen. Menendez, a leader in the United States Senate on issues of women, children, and minority health, presented legislation he has introduced and passed to benefit members of these constituencies. Also of interest to the Virtua Healthcare System was the nearly $200,000 in federal dollars Sen. Menendez successfully helped secure this past January for Virtua's Health's Cancer Treatment Equipment Project.

Below is the text of his remarks from today, as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Richard Miller for that kind introduction, and thank you to the Virtua Board and administrators for allowing me the opportunity to be with you all today.

The real experts on health care are sitting here in front of me, so I'm going to keep my remarks brief, and then I'd love to answer any questions you might have and learn as much as I can from you. One thing we all know very well is that New Jersey hospitals are facing some of their toughest times ever.

Over the past year and a half, we've seen seven hospitals shut their doors, four more announce plans to close and five file for bankruptcy. Over the last twenty years, in New Jersey, almost 1 in every 3 hospitals has disappeared. When a hospital closes its doors, this means lost jobs, it can mean lost options for treatment, and it can mean an entire community at a loss for words. I am committed to ensuring that our communities always have access to critical services-even in this tight economic time.

It's clear we need to do more to help. I happen to think this is a crisis that isn't just the responsibility of individuals to resolve, not just the responsibility of the state to resolve- it's a crisis that our entire nation needs to come together to resolve.

That's why I was happy to join with Sen. Lautenberg to secure almost $200,000 in federal funding for your Cancer Treatment Equipment Project, bringing a state-of-the-art linear accelerator to Mount Holly, and giving your patients a new weapon in the fight against cancer.

One of my highest priorities as a United States Senator is making sure our health care system has all the funding it needs to survive.
And I want to thank all of you for your strong support and help working toward the positive change in Washington that we all want to see.

For you, making health care work means delivering babies, performing innovative cancer therapies, giving emergency treatment to heal pain and bring hope.

For me, as a legislator, making health care work is a question of values. It's a question of values, whether we should collectively help people have access to top-tier facilities like yours.
It's a question of values, whether we support the education that will bring down rates of diabetes and heart disease. When a child is crying in the night, and her parents are twice as afraid she has something serious because they don't have insurance to pay for treatment, our values are what determines whether that child's cries reach our ears.

The current state of health care in this country puts our beliefs to a profound test.

When 47 million Americans still have no health insurance, including millions of children, we're not talking about people falling through the cracks, we're talking about people falling into a massive gulf.

It is a gulf that has been pushed opened along the seismic lines of class and race.

Just because you're born into a black or Hispanic family, just because your parents work at some of the toughest jobs in the country but without health coverage, you're going to be at a far higher risk for so many preventable childhood diseases.

In this great nation of ours, the wealth of your parents should not impact your access to a wealth of opportunity. In this great nation, the darkness of your skin should not diminish the brightness of your future.

I believe no child should have to go to bed at night without health care. That's why I've stood up to expand the State Children's Health Insurance program, to cover an additional 100,000 children in New Jersey, to cover an additional 4 million children across America. That's why I've stood up for the Healthy Families Act, to allow fathers and mothers and daughters and sons to take sick leave to take care of both themselves and their families.

MOTHERS ACT

The health of children is deeply connected to the health of their mothers. There are so many complicated aspects of maternal care, but I just want to mention one. In the United States, ten to twenty percent of women suffer from a disabling and often undiagnosed condition known as postpartum depression. It's serious, it's disabling, and new mothers deserve to be given information and resources on this condition so, if needed, they can get the appropriate help.

For a long time, I've been working hard to support the MOTHERS act, legislation that would greatly increase the support available to diagnose and treat the condition. I want to thank Virtua for all your support on this issue. You've shown tremendous leadership.

As many of you know, the legislation will offer the opportunity for new mothers to be educated about postpartum depression.

It also provides social services to new mothers and their families who are struggling with postpartum depression, and it supports new research at the National Institutes of Health so we can keep developing new tools to help future moms.

By boosting education, research and early treatment options for postpartum depression, mothers, husbands, and families, will be able to recognize the symptoms of this condition and help new mothers get the treatment they need and deserve.
Many new mothers sacrifice anything and everything to provide feelings of security and safety to their newborn child. It's our duty to provide the same level of security, safety and support to new mothers in need.

For those of you keeping a close eye on this legislation, we're expecting it to make it through committee in April, and even though there are plenty of obstacles, I'd like to see it passed by the end of this year.

PATIENT NAVIGATOR

This year Congress has taken other steps to bring us farther down the path from a system based on treatment to a system based on prevention.

I'm proud to have secured almost $3 billion in funding for the patient navigator program, to ensure that all Americans, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, language, or geography, will have access to prevention screening and treatment,
and that they will have an advocate at their side, helping them navigate through today's complicated health care system.
Senator Robert Menendez
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My program addresses what I believe are the root causes of health disparities in minority and underserved communities: lack of access to health care, particularly prevention and early detection.

The bottom line is: it's far easier to stay healthy if you see a doctor when you are healthy.
Unfortunately, patients in some communities are less likely to receive early screening and detection, so their disease is found at a much later stage and they have less chance of survival. We need to give those people the chance they deserve for a long, healthy life.

Our health care system is really a symbiotic relationship-if we neglect one part, all parts suffer. If we neglect our children, if we neglect our doctors, if we neglect patient care-the ripple effects spread far and wide.

We need to increase access to comprehensive, quality care for everyone in this state and in this country. We need to increase our prevention efforts and strengthen our public health services. We need to support our physicians. And we need to provide health care to every child in America.

These are my priorities moving forward, and I know with these values in mind, we can create a better health care system for our children and families.

CONCLUSION

Before I close, I just want to recognize and thank you for all that you do to improve and strengthen our health care system. It is your patient care, your efforts on a daily basis that are going to provide the real change.

I know you all work every day, many in underserved communities, to provide life-saving, life-changing treatment and that is the real future of our health care system.

My friends, every vote I cast in the Senate, I think about whether it's going to let my daughter Alicia and my son Robert have the best future possible. Their pictures look down on my desk and watch over me every day. There's a picture of my daughter as a teenager, and a picture of her at her college graduation. This spring, when my son graduates, a photograph of him in cap and gown will sit right beside them.

Why do we need to make sure health care is available to everyone, young and old? The answer is, so everyone gets to have pictures like that on their mantelpiece. That's what it's all about. That's my answer.
Now, I'd be happy to hear your questions.

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