NEWARK, NJ – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, U.S. Representatives Albio Sires (NJ-08), Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) and Frank Pallone (NJ-06), today joined Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Councilmembers Luis Quintana, Augusto Amador and Anibal Ramos, and members of Newark’s Ironbound community for a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the official opening of the Saint James Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), which will significantly expand quality health services to thousands of local Latino families. The center is funded in part with $600,000 from the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“Investments in our community health centers—like Saint James—are exactly the kind of investments we must make if we want all of our communities and families to prosper,” said Sen. Menendez, who is a leader in the effort to expand FQHCs throughout New Jersey, including Saint James. “That’s why I’ve worked so hard to expand our network of quality, local health facilities and why I fought to make sure Saint James—and the Ironbound community—was not left behind.”
“Communities like Newark face incredible barriers to adequate health care, such as transportation, language, and inadequate access to information,” said Sen. Booker. “This new federally qualified health center will help address these health inequities by bringing critical, high-quality health care services into the community. I was proud to have worked closely with HHS to bring nearly $3.7 million in federal funding to New Jersey for community health centers, and stand committed to continue strengthening our underserved communities.”
"This is a good day for the residents of the East Ward of Newark,” said Rep. Sires. “For the first time in nearly a decade since St. James Hospital closed, we are returning access to affordable, high-quality health care to the Ironbound. That is why I am so proud to have worked with local, county, state and federal elected officials to finally see this project come to its completion.”
“New Jersey’s community health centers provide thousands of hardworking New Jerseyans with access to quality, comprehensive health care services,” said Rep Payne, Jr. “Community health centers understand the health needs of their communities, and they tailor services to those needs. Saint James Health will allow for the treatment of more underserved New Jerseyans, improving the quality of life in our communities.”
“Local health centers like Saint James are critical access points for New Jersey families in need of high-quality and affordable health services,” said Rep. Pallone. “This new funding, which is yet another example of the positive and transformative impact the Affordable Care Act is having in our state and across the country, will give our communities the resources to continue serving those who need these vital services most.”
Since St. James Hospital was shuttered in 2008, the surrounding community has faced a shortfall in access to care, with many either forgoing doctor visits or relying on emergency rooms at other city hospitals. As a new FQHC, Saint James’s staff of physicians, nurses, social workers and administrators will provide primary care, OBGYN, pediatrics and internal medicine. Their multilingual staff will help patients navigate the health and social service system, and help families apply for Medicaid Expansion and ACA health insurance options during the enrollment period. Saint James is expected to serve 4,000 patients this year, operating five days a week, and offering extended weekend and evening hours beginning this Spring.
“We are thrilled to be opening our doors to provide much needed primary care to the residents of Newark and our surrounding neighbors, said Nicole Fields, President and CEO, Saint James Health. “Saint James Health was founded in 2014 to fill the gap in primary care left by the closure of Saint James Hospital, to improve health outcomes and to guarantee access to culturally competent care, specifically in the East Ward. Our residents are not traditional health care patients. Here many residents face language and cultural barriers. They may not have proper health insurance. Most critically they are experiencing disproportionately high rates of asthma, diabetes, and hypertension. This trend must be reversed if we are to reach the goal of a healthy Newark.”
When St. James was passed over for federal funding in 2014, Menendez and Booker made a strong case to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell to fund the center, noting the lack of care available to residents in the largest Latino community in Newark. Last year, Saint James received a total $600,000 in funding from the ACA.
“Newark continues to expand access to quality, comprehensive and affordable health care services,” said Mayor Baraka. This clinic is another step forward, the result of collaboration and partnership with our federal legislators, Essex County, the Obama administration and the City of Newark.”
“The Community Health Clinic will help those less fortunate and will make it more assessable to those who are ill and live in the vicinity,” said Councilman Quintana.
“New Jersey’s community health centers provide thousands of hardworking New Jerseyans with access to quality, comprehensive health care services,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “Community health centers understand the health needs of their communities, and they tailor services to those needs. Saint James Health will allow for the treatment of more underserved New Jerseyans, improving the quality of life in our communities.” said Councilman Amador.
“For well over 40 years, federally qualified health centers have addressed the healthcare needs of millions of Americans all throughout this country,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Executive Officer Dennis Gonzalez. “We’re pleased that thanks to the Affordable Care Act we are able to provide the funding to establish a new health center – to join with the centers that already operate in Newark – and continue to deliver to this city and surrounding areas comprehensive, high?quality preventive and primary health care to patients regardless of their ability to pay.”
Among the public officials attending today’s ribbon cutting were: Sens. Menendez and Booker, U.S. Reps. Sires, Payne and Pallone, Mayor Baraka, Councilmen Quintana, Amador and Ramos, Gonzalez on behalf of HHS, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, and State Sen. Teresa Ruiz.
October 29, 2020