October 25, 2018

Contact: Toni Granato, NJPCA Communications Coordinator, (609) 455-8782

Community Health Centers, Dignitaries, MCOs, and Stakeholders Join for NJPCA Annual Conference

Atlantic City, New Jersey– The New Jersey Primary Care Association held its Annual Conference, It’s About the Patients: Community Health Centers Providing Integrated Quality Care, this week at the Golden Nugget. The two-day conference was an opportunity for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) also known as Community Health Centers to network with colleagues and community partners from across the Mid-Atlantic region. The conference offered presentations, certification opportunities, and dynamic trainings that allowed attendees to connect with one another and discover new and innovative practices in primary care. Community Health Center patients from Henry J. Austin Health Center, of Trenton, Project H.O.P.E., of Camden, and Zufall Health Center, of Dover, also had the opportunity to share their stories.

“This conference highlights our dedication to providing mental health and substance use disorder services for patients. Community Health Centers provide a wide array of integrated services to over half a million New Jerseyans a year. Not only have we included patients as conference presenters, but we are also proud to have exceptional speakers such as former Governor McGreevey, Mary Johnson-Roy and Oshea Israel. We remain firmly committed to the Community Health Center mission and will continue to be responsive to the needs of our communities,” said Jillian Hudspeth, New Jersey Primary Care Association (NJPCA) President and CEO.

As a part of the Empathy in Action Series, the Breakout Breakfast addressed how compassion and forgiveness impact mental health. Guest speakers, Mary Johnson-Roy and Oshea Israel shared their compelling story of healing after Mary Johnson-Roy forgave and befriended Oshea Isreal who murdered her son at age 16. Through participation in the restorative justice process, Mary transformed the anger and hatred she had for Oshea, into forgiveness and love. When Oshea was released from prison in 2010, after having served 17 years, Mary welcomed him home with open arms. She now considers him her “spiritual son” and together they share their powerful story of healing and reconciliation in forums around the country. Longtime supporter of Community Health Centers, Former Governor McGreevey also inspired the audience during his Keynote speech.

“Community Health Centers are the front lines of health care services within our communities. Every day they provide the critically needed preventative, diagnostic, and medical treatment, which enables our children and families to live healthy and productive lives. In the midst of the terrible opioid crisis that has ravaged so many families, access to community-based health care is a critical necessity that has saved troubled lives. Professionally and personally, I am so incredibly indebted for the compassion, commitment, and courage of our Community Health Centers,” said the Honorable Governor McGreevey.

Dignitaries from the U.S. Department of Health, Human Services and the Health Resources and Services Administration, and New Jersey Department of Health were also in attendance.

Over 300 participants, including FQHC CEOs and staff, government officials, managed care organizations, and other community stakeholders attended NJPCA’s 2018 Annual Conference. Aetna Better Health of New Jersey was a Platinum Plus sponsor of the Annual Conference. Aetna was also proud to host the Peer Support Group Networking Reception, which included networking and peer learning of FQHC employees.

“Providing our members with greater access to high-quality health care within their communities is critical to our mission of improving the health of every life we touch, said Glenn MacFarlane, Aetna Better Health of New Jersey’s president and CEO. “By partnering with the NJPCA we have cultivated a dynamic partnership, which helps us create a better health care system for our members. We are proud to be the platinum sponsor of the NJPCA 2018 Conference – celebrating the outstanding work of New Jersey’s Federally Qualified Health Centers and collaborating to make our community stronger and healthier.”

The Healthcare Heroes Award Ceremony recognized the special talent and unwavering commitment of FQHC employees. New Jersey FQHCs throughout the state selected a model employee to be honored. Awardees were selected based on their selfless commitment and unwavering dedication to the mission of their Community Health Center.

“I am very honored to recognize the Healthcare Heroes from FQHC’s around New Jersey. These individuals nobly reflect the mission of their own Health Centers and speak to the compassion one must embody to work in the healthcare field. I am proud to acknowledge their sacrifice and dedication,” said Dr. Theresa Berger, NJPCA Board Chair and President and CEO of Ocean Health Initiatives, Inc.

The list of Healthcare Heroes from across New Jersey can be found below.

2018 Annual Conference

Healthcare Heroes Nominations


Health Center Hero Nomination Job Title
Alliance Community Healthcare, Inc. Ivonne Tobar Dental Assistant
AtlantiCare Health Services Vinny Kirkland Care Manager
CAMcare Health Corporation Manuel Alcazar Facilities Supervisor
Center for Health Education, Medicine, & Dentistry (CHEMED) Adrienne Lambert Medical Records
CompleteCare Health Network Dr. Elham Ismail Internal & Adult Medicine Provider
Eric B. Chandler Health Center Dr. Brenda Walker Dental Director
Henry J. Austin Health Center, Inc. Nancy Perez Patient Navigator
Jewish Renaissance Foundation Dr. Irina Zelikson M.D., D.O Physician & Medical Director
Jewish Renaissance Medical Center MaryJane Linnehan, MSN, MPH, CPNP Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Mary Eliza Mahoney Health Center Dr. Isabel Gonzalez Chief Pediatrician
Metropolitan Family Health Network Patrick Beaty, MD Chief Medical Officer
Monmouth Family Health Center Astrid Rodriguez Data Entry Associate
Newark Community Health Centers, Inc. Dr. Shomali Dasgupta, DMD Dentist
North Hudson Community Action Corporation Health Center Cesar Pavon Coordinator
Ocean Health Initiatives, Inc. Jazmine Kucera, LPN Administrative Assistant
Osborn Family Health Center Mary Alice Klaus Pediatric Nurse Manager
Project H.O.P.E., Inc. Cheresse Pullin, CPC Billing Supervisor
Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers (SJFMC) Connie Moreno Interpreter
Randy Pruden Financial Counselor
Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey Community Health Center Edna Gomez Lead Medical Assistant
Zufall Health Center Erik Moran H.E.A.L. Case Manager



Community Health Centers, Dignitaries, MCOs, and Stakeholders Join for NJPCA Annual Conference