For Immediate Release

August 9, 2021

Contact: Toni Granato, NJPCA Manager of Communications and Policy

(609) 455-8782 (cell) or tgranato@njpca.org

Alliance, NJPCA, and Partners Celebrate National Health Center Week at State Kick-Off

Alliance Community Healthcare, the New Jersey Primary Care Association (NJPCA), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Region II, New Jersey Department of Human Services, New Jersey Senator Sandra Cunningham, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, Mayor Steven Fulop, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and a special representative from U.S. Senator Menendez’s office joined to celebrate the statewide National Health Center Week (NHCW) kick-off today.  NHCW (August 8th- 14th) is an annual celebration to raise awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).

“I am honored to host this year’s Health Center week kick-off event.  I am especially proud that Alliance was able to stay open throughout this pandemic and for our dedicated staff who came in every day and extended themselves to ensure our patients received timely care, knew their status and got vaccinated.  Today, Our Health Centers and so many community partners agreed to join in continuing to serve our community and assist those needing additional help due to the impact by this pandemic.” said Marilyn Cintron, Chief Executive Officer, Alliance Community Healthcare.

Community Health Centers provide high-quality primary, dental, and behavioral healthcare services to over half a million patients regardless of their ability to pay.  New Jersey Health Centers also ensure that patients have access to affordable food, housing, and transportation services.  For over a year and a half, New Jersey FQHCs have also served as front-line responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Especially as we reflect on the past year, we are proud to celebrate New Jersey’s Community Health Centers during the 2021 National Health Center Week Kick-off.  In addition to providing medical, dental, and behavioral health services to underserved communities, the 24 FQHCs have been at the front-lines administering COVID-19 testing and life-saving vaccines,” said Selina Haq, Ph.D., NJPCA President and CEO.  “It is an honor to be joined by so many federal, state, and local partners who have collaborated with us in the fight against the pandemic.  We look forward to our continued partnership in serving nearly 600,000 New Jerseyans in over 130 communities.”

Throughout the pandemic, Health Centers’ doors have remained open to serve their patients in-person and through telehealth.  The majority of the New Jersey FQHCs even implemented telehealth services that were not in place before the pandemic.

“The pandemic has proved the essential role New Jersey’s Federally Qualified Health Centers play in the lives and well-being of the people of our communities,” said Joan Dublin, RN, MPA, ACHE, NJPCA Board Chair, and Metropolitan Family Health Network President and CEO. “We have witnessed the astounding good that is accomplished when our administrators, providers, staff, elected representatives, and area leaders work together as partners. We are grateful to all for their courage, diligence, leadership, and support.”

Federal and State funding has allowed Health Centers to expand COVID-19 vaccination, testing, contract tracing, and treatment of COVID-19; purchase equipment, including mobile units to conduct COVID-19 testing or vaccinations; and provide COVID-19 community outreach and education.  These services are specially designed for those at higher risk for COVID-19 and the communities most impacted by the pandemic.

“The U.S Department of Health & Human and our HRSA division are extremely proud of our Community Health Center Program.  These health centers – thousands throughout the country, including 24 in New Jersey with over 100 satellite clinics – offer outstanding, quality healthcare to everybody, regardless of insurance coverage, ability to pay and legal status.  As HHS Regional Director, I am especially proud of all the great work done by these health centers in NJ during the last year and half to face head-on – often times at great personal risk – the challenges of this horrible pandemic.  When we talk about heroes during this pandemic, our community health centers and their dedicated staff will always be a shiny example,” said Dennis González, HHS, Region II, Acting Regional Director.

This year, the theme of NHCW is “Community Health Centers: The Chemistry for Strong Communities.”

“At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, health centers had to make significant shifts overnight—both personally and professionally. We watched as health centers, look-alikes, and our key partners worked courageously around the clock to stand up COVID-19 testing and treatment processes and procedures, and more recently to spearhead efforts to increase access to vaccines, all while continuing to provide primary health care services to our nation’s underserved populations. For more than half a century, health centers have delivered affordable, accessible, and value-based primary health care to millions of people. No one is turned away. During National Health Center Week, we have the opportunity to reflect on the incredible work of New Jersey’s health centers,” said Cheryl Donald, MA, MBA, LMFT, Regional Administrator, Region II, Health Resources & Services Administration, HHS.

Throughout the week, Health Centers across the nation celebrate the innovative ways they provide high-quality healthcare to various populations such as people experiencing homeless, children, and agricultural workers.  Health Centers also host staff, patient, and community stakeholder appreciation days.

“At Human Services and across Governor Murphy’s Administration, we value our state’s community health centers that are beacons of service and care in communities throughout New Jersey,” New Jersey Department of Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “We especially value their dedication during this pandemic. They’ve been on the front lines caring for and providing COVID vaccinations to residents, while deploying innovative strategies to make sure our residents continued to access preventative and primary health care. We’re grateful for the contributions of our community health centers and celebrate them not just today, but every day.”

Dozens of NHCW events are scheduled in New Jersey, including health fairs, vaccine fairs, visits by Members of Congress and state officials to local health centers, press conferences, back-to-school drives, and free health screenings.

“Health Centers are an invaluable lifeline for so many in our communities, especially as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. I am glad we are taking the time to spread awareness for all of the crucial health services they offer to our residents,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham.

After the New Jersey kick-off press conference, Alliance’s community event featured special giveaways from community partners, musical entertainment, food/refreshments, and the “Get Your Vax on Summer Raffle.” Members of the public who had yet to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and received their first dose at the event were entered into Alliance’s raffle drawing.

“It is imperative, now more than ever, that we ensure people have access to quality healthcare. From health fairs to free health screenings, we are trying to close the healthcare inequality gap found among impoverished, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. So thank you to all the health centers and workers who have dedicated themselves to caring for all people, especially during these challenging times,” said Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight.

At the event, vaccines were administered by the Hudson County COVID Vaccination Team operated by Hudson Regional Health Commission.

“The pandemic has made obvious to more of us than ever before the need for affordable and accessible healthcare for all,” said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, who serves as Chair of the Judiciary Committee and Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore. “The awe-inspiring work of our community health centers – both before and since the pandemic began, from providing vital services without regard to a patient’s ability to pay to administering life-saving COVID-19 vaccinations – must be celebrated, supported, and expanded upon. I am honored to join in celebrating our FQHCs and their amazing staff for this year’s National Health Center Week.”

Anyone 12 and above was eligible for the Pfizer vaccination.  The parents of children who received the vaccine were entered into the raffle.  Members of the public must receive both doses of the vaccine to receive the full raffle prize.

“Federally Qualified Health Centers have become a key component of our healthcare system over the last half century,” said Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise. “But their contribution to improving community wellness and addressing the healthcare needs of underserved populations has not received the recognition it deserves. That’s why this week is so important and why I am glad to help kick off our statewide effort to highlight it in our very own Lincoln Park.”

First prize for the raffle is $3,500, second prize is $2,250, and third prize is $1,500.  Winners will receive half of the prize at the event and the other half when they complete the vaccination series.  The raffle was sponsored by the following partners: Platinum Sponsor: Circuit Clinical and Horizon Pharmacy.  Bronze sponsor: Gilead, Liberty Dental Plan, LabCorp, and Horizon NJ Health.  Friends of the Health Center: UnitedHealthcare, Hudson Regional Hospital, Amerigroup, and WellCare.  In addition, COVID-19 testing was provided by the City of Jersey City.

“Maintaining our community’s health has never been more critical than it is right now in the midst of this COVID crisis, and so we want to honor the dedicated frontline providers and staff this National Health Center Week and every week throughout the year.  Ultimately, the entire community benefits when our residents are healthy,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “Through our strong partnerships with the three FQHCs right here in Jersey City – Jersey City Alliance Community Healthcare, Metropolitan Family Health, and North Hudson Community Action Corporation – we’re able to ensure continued access to comprehensive medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare for all Jersey City residents, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Also present were over 30 non-profits providing housing assistance, utilities applications, Get Covered NJ health coverage assistance, food, prizes and much, much more.

About Alliance Community Healthcare

Alliance Community Healthcare was founded in 1963. Today, the Health Center delivers comprehensive healthcare services to more than 19,000 patients and handles more than 58,000 outpatient visits annually.  Alliance offers primary care, women’s health, family care, dental services, pediatrics, behavioral health, specialty and more services at their site on Christopher Columbus Drive in Jersey City.

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. There are 24 Federally Qualified Health Centers in New Jersey and 136 satellite sites providing healthcare services to nearly 600,000. For more information about the NJPCA, please visit njpca.org.

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 bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html.

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Alliance, NJPCA, and Partners Celebrate National Health Center Week at State Kick-Off