Menendez Kicks off National Health Center Week at Project H.O.P.E.

Menendez Kicks off National Health Center Week at Project H.O.P.E.


CAMDEN, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today kicked off National Health Center Week at Project H.O.P.E.’s health fair. As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, the Sen. Menendez has long supported expanding health care for all Americans.  The senator, a champion of community health centers, underscored the importance of fully funding Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which offer a wide-range of high-quality health care services in communities throughout New Jersey.

“I cannot think of anyone more rooted in the city of Camden or more responsive to the needs of its most vulnerable residents than Patricia DeShields and her entire Project H.O.P.E. team.  Project H.O.P.E.’s doors are open to all, whether they are struggling with mental health or substance abuse disorders, or looking for cost-effective prenatal, pediatric, and primary care, or struggling with homelessness and have nowhere else to turn,” said Sen. Menendez.  “We’ve seen community health centers use the historic investments provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to reach more patients than ever before and, in the coming years, I want to see community health centers across America grow even deeper roots in our towns and cities.” 

In New Jersey, 24 community health centers operate 135 sites, providing preventive and primary health care services to nearly 600,000 New Jerseyans.

Project H.O.P.E. is an FQHC and provides primary health care, behavioral, and substance abuse treatment to low-income communities and the homeless population. Over the past 26 years, Project H.O.P.E. has laid the groundwork and led the way in providing accessible medical care to vulnerable populations in the Camden region. More than 6,000 individuals are served each year at their West Street Health Center and satellite locations – Cathedral Kitchen, Joseph’s House, and Volunteers of America – via their mobile health van.

“Project H.O.P.E., together with Community Health Centers across the nation, is excited and proud to celebrate National Health Center Week 2019. Since their birth in the 1960s, Community Health Centers have been leaders in the movement to identify and address the impact of environmental and social factors on health and well-being.  Community Health Centers have a long history of reaching beyond the traditional medical model of care to address housing, nutrition, care management, mental health and substance use in the primary care setting. We know that our success in managing chronic disease in vulnerable communities is a result of our integrated care models, the care coordination we provide to every patient and our focus on community,” said Patricia DeShields, Chief Executive Officer of Project H.O.P.E., Inc. “I am privileged to lead Project H.O.P.E. and participate in the work of Community Health Centers. We are excited to celebrate our accomplishments and we look forward to the work ahead!”

Also in attendance at today’s health fair were U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region II Regional Director Dr. Anthony Ferreri, Camden County Sheriff Gilbert Whip Wilson and New Jersey Primary Care Association President Jillian Hudspeth.

New Jersey Primary Care Association (NJPCA) is an advocate for community health centers as well as a provider of comprehensive education, training and technical assistance to New Jersey’s 24 FQHCs.

Earlier this year, Sen. Menendez joined colleagues in introducing legislation to bolster community health centers and expand access to vital health care services for hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans. In 2018, the senator secured an additional $1.6 billion in CHC funding on top of the $7.8 billion appropriated for FY2018 and 2019. 

As an author of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Sen. Menendez championed an amendment that provided CHCs with $11 billion in mandatory funding over five years, expiring in 2015, for new and existing programs to expand access to primary care services. Since 2015, Sen. Menendez has helped secure separate, two-year extensions for the program. Most recently, he successfully fought for two additional years of mandatory funding at $7.8 billion in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and $1.63 billion for FY19 in discretionary dollars in the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education spending package for a total of $5.63 billion for the current fiscal year.

Sen. Menendez also supported an amendment included in the ACA final passage that requires private insurance plans on the exchange to fully reimburse FQHCs at no less than the same rate as Medicaid in order to ensure the economic vitality of community health centers and properly recognize them for the valuable role they play in the American health care system.

Sen. Menendez has been honored multiple times for his long time advocacy on behalf of FQHCs, having receiving the Distinguished Community Health Advocate Award and the Community Health Center Hero Award in 2018, the Champion for Community Health Centers Award in 2016, and the Distinguished Community Health Champion Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) in 2012.