For Immediate Release

October 3, 2019

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

NJPCA Celebrates 30 Years of Excellence at Annual Conference

Atlantic City, New Jersey– The New Jersey Primary Care Association held its Annual Conference today at Harrah’s Resort.  The two-day conference celebrated NJPCA’s three decades of service to New Jersey’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). The conference offered presentations, certification opportunities, and dynamic trainings that allowed participants to discover new and innovative practices in primary care.  The 2019 conference featured personal stories of New Jersey FQHC physicians. Having grown up oceans away from where they now practice, Dr. Emmanuel Frederick Ashong and Dr. Raksha Joshi shared how the universal values of the Community Health Center movement led them to provide caring health services.  As part of the Empathy in Action Series, Center for Health Education, Medicine, & Dentistry (CHEMED) CEO, Dr. Dovid Friedman  discussed “From Apartheid to America: Lessons Learned from the Battlefield of Race, Religion, and Healthcare” during the Breakout Breakfast. The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) President and CEO, Tom Van Coverden also provided remarks at the conference.

“NJPCA was founded in 1989 by an inspiring group of leaders from across New Jersey.  Over the years, we have expanded affordable, high quality care for over half a million New Jerseyans in every part of the state.  We are proud to recognize an outstanding group of honorees and healthcare heroes during today’s luncheon.  We are also honored to have extraordinary speakers such as the HHS Region II Executive Officer, Dennis González and the CEO of the first rural FQHC, John Fairman join us to celebrate this special anniversary,” said Jillian Hudspeth, New Jersey Primary Care Association (NJPCA) President and CEO.

Delta Health Center CEO John A. Fairman was the Keynote Speaker of the 2019 Annual Conference. Delta Health Center, which opened its doors in 1965, is the first rural Federally Qualified Health Center in the United States, located in historic Mound Bayou, Mississippi.  The success of the Delta Health Center and Columbia Point Health Centers, the first urban Health Center located in Boston, Massachusetts, led to the establishment of more than 200 Health Centers in the United States by 1973; approximately 1,200 by 2010; and 1,400 today.  Mr. Fairman shared eye-witness accounts of his life growing up in Mississippi, how the early Community Health Center movement started, and FQHCs’ relevance from the 1960s to today.

“It is not only meaningful and rewarding to ensure the Delta has quality health care for all, but it is an honor to continue in the footsteps of Dr. Jack Geiger, Delta Health Center’s Founding Father.  Dr. Geiger, along with Dr. Robert Smith, Dr. John Hatch, and Dr. Andrew James, among others, were the leaders of the great men and women that began the community health care movement, amid a great deal of adversity.  Thankfully, today we can go forward caring for our community members without personal danger, and humbling carry on the legacy of those who came before us so that we can one day be able to reach everyone who may be in need,” said John A. Fairman, Chief Executive Officer, Delta Health Center, Inc.

At the Healthcare Heroes Luncheon, NJPCA awarded the following Lifetime Achievement Honorees: Bob Russell; Kathy Grant-Davis; Julane Miller-Armbrister; Mark Bryant; Carol Lightsey; Carolyn G. Holmes; Linda Y. Flake; Linda Anderson, Shirley Smith-Downie, and Captain Edwin Vazquez.

“We at HHS are very proud of our Community Health Center Program, which is administered by our Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), and in Region II, we are particularly proud of all the outstanding centers that operate in the State of New Jersey. Theses Garden State Centers, just like centers throughout the country, are committed to the overall mission of providing quality and compassionate healthcare services to everyone especially to those in need regardless of the ability to pay. New Jersey is fortunate to have so many outstanding centers with clinical and support staff that are passionate and dedicated to serving the communities where they live and work. The NJPCA does an outstanding job of highlighting the excellence of all the health centers in New Jersey and are strong advocates to ensure that they are always able to maintain the highest standards of quality healthcare that distinguishes these centers in New  Jersey,” said Dennis E. González, Executive Officer, Office of the Secretary, Region II (NY, NJ, PR, VI), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Over 350 participants, including FQHC CEOs and staff, government officials, managed care organizations, and other community stakeholders attended NJPCA’s 2019 Annual Conference.  Dignitaries from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),  the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and New Jersey Department of Health were also in attendance.  Aetna Better Health of New Jersey was the Diamond sponsor of the Annual Conference. Aetna was also proud to sponsor NJPCA’s White & Gold Party.

“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 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 diamond sponsor of the 2019 Annual Conference – celebrating 30 years of outstanding work by New Jersey’s Community Health Centers and collaborating to make our community stronger and healthier.”

The Healthcare Heroes Award Ceremony recognized the special talent and commitment of current FQHC employees.  New Jersey FQHCs throughout the state selected a model employee to be honored.

“In celebrating the New Jersey Primary Care Association’s 30th Anniversary, it is only fitting that we recognize the contributions of our Healthcare Heroes.  These are individuals whose work has benefited not only our Federally Qualified Health Centers, but more importantly, the men, women and children who live healthier, happier lives as a result of compassionate, affordable, quality healthcare,” said Joan Dublin, RN, MPA, ACHE, NJPCA Board Chair and Metropolitan Family Health Network President and CEO. “My colleagues on the NJPCA Board and I are privileged to know these heroes and happy to present them with the 2019 Healthcare Heroes Awards.”

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

2019 Annual Conference

Healthcare Heroes

Health Center Hero Nomination Job Title
Alliance Community Healthcare, Inc. Christina Schembre Medical Assistant
AtlantiCare Health Services Chanel Fleming Certified Medical Assistant
CAMcare Health Corporation Dr. Joshua Tyson Dentist
Center for Health Education, Medicine, & Dentistry (CHEMED) Elizabeth Loughlin Registered Nurse
CompleteCare Health Network Karla Pope Director of Nursing
Eric B. Chandler Health Center Rose Jean-Baptiste Program Manager
Henry J. Austin Health Center, Inc. Dr. Caitlin McCarthy Director of Pharmacy
Jewish Renaissance Foundation Dr. Nidhi Khurana Dental Director
Jewish Renaissance Medical Center Blanca Podinker Director of Nursing
Mary Eliza Mahoney Health Center Luidmila Caceres Registration Clerk/Greeter
Metropolitan Family Health Network Dr. Ralph Pellecchia Director of OB/GYN
Monmouth Family Health Center Angie Vega Certified Medical Assistant
Neighborhood Health Services Corporation Dr. Demetria Pennington Pediatrician
Newark Community Health Centers, Inc. Dr. Pauline Walks Pediatrician
North Hudson Community Action Corporation Health Center Tom Turner Facilities Manager
Ocean Health Initiatives, Inc. Renee Natale Project Manager
Osborn Family Health Center Zoila Cuadrado Access Interviewer
Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers, Inc. (SJFMC) Dr. Robert Hill Dentist
Zufall Health Center Karen Ponce Certified Medical Assistant


About the New Jersey Primary Care Association

The 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 Health Centers in New Jersey. NJPCA represents 23 Federally Qualified Health Centers and their 134 satellite sites providing healthcare services to 559,653 people in New Jersey. For more information about NJPCA, please visit


Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), also known as Community Health Centers, are in every state across the nation. FQHCs are authorized under Section 330(A) of the Public Health Services Act to provide healthcare to the medically underserved. Many Community Health Centers and their sites are specially designated to serve the needs of special populations including homeless populations, public housing residents, migrant and seasonal farm workers, veterans and school-aged children. For more information about the HRSA Health Center Program, please visit



NJPCA Celebrates 30 Years of Excellence at Annual Conference