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Greater Freehold Community Health Center to open in Freehold Borough in December

Registered nurse Shadiye Ahearn, RNC (right) shows mother Kristin Desanto (left) how to swaddle her newborn son Matthew in the maternity ward at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold Township on January 15.

The Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey (VNA) Community Health Center, a strategic affiliate of the nonprofit organization Visiting Nurse Association Health Group’s Children and Family Health Institute, has announced the opening of the Greater Freehold Community Health Center in Freehold Borough, tentatively scheduled to open in December at 597 Park Ave. (the former location of Foodtown).

The opportunity to better serve the Freehold Borough community brings together three like-minded and mission-centered organizations: CentraState Healthcare System, an independent, not-for-profit health organization in Freehold; Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; and the VNACJ Community Health Center, part of VNA Health Group’s Children and Family Health Institute, one of three of the organization’s programmatic initiatives.

The new federally qualified health center will provide access to health care through a unique academic community partnership that is responsive to the cultural and linguistic diversity of populations in the service area, providing holistic family-centered care. The 25,000-square-foot building will be split into two areas. One will serve as the primary and specialty health care center, which will be run by the CentraState Family Medicine Residency Program, sponsored by the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The second area of the building will be used as administrative offices for VNA Health Group’s Children and Family Health Institute’s headquarters.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, VNA Health Group’s Children and Family Health Institute, which will also be the lead agency, will establish the center as a way to leverage community resources and improve health outcomes for individuals and families in the greater Freehold community in western Monmouth County. Staff at the medical center will provide primary care, health screenings and education, prenatal care, podiatry, and nutrition counseling and diabetic education to individuals and families free of charge.

“Since 1912, VNA Health Group has responded to the needs of the community by providing public health nursing,” said Steven Landers, MPH, MD, president and CEO of VNA Health Group. “Our new community health center in Freehold is a natural extension of the work that our Children’s and Family Health Institute is already doing to meet the needs of an extremely vulnerable population, who may not have had adequate access to coordinated health care in the past. We are thrilled and honored to be partnering with these organizations.”

Partner organization CentraState HealthCare System will relocate its residency program to the site to enhance the opportunity for training of primary care physicians. Currently, CentraState’s physician residents are able to take advantage of CentraState’s residency program through their Family Medicine Center, sponsored by Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The new center will provide a new location for resident training and education.

“As an academic medical organization, we believe it is critical to offer a residency training program that’s meaningful and impactful not just for the medical residents, but also for the community at large,” said John Gribbin, president and CEO of CentraState. “This partnership aligns perfectly with our mission to provide disease prevention and emphasize wellness for patients. It also encourages family practice residents to remain in New Jersey. There is a shortage of primary care physicians nationwide and this partnership addresses that issue by combining the latest medical advances and clinical practice with the VNA Health Group’s expertise in providing community health programs.”

The Greater Freehold Community Health Center will be the fourth federally qualified health center throughout Monmouth County but the first to bring together the three organizations in this unique partnership. Additional VNACJ FQHC facilities include the Center for Early Childhood Development and Family Support, the Center for Pediatric Home Care, and the Center for Primary Care and Public Health. These centers offer expanded community health outreach, school-based safety net programs, and overall services for children and families.

“One of our primary goals with the new center is to provide better care coordination for the greater Freehold community,” said Tom Thees, interim executive director for the Community Health Centers at VNA Health Group. “We hope that through our meaningful partnership with CentraState and Rutgers and by having our Children and Family Health Institute headquartered in the same building, we will be able to provide better care coordination services, smoother healthcare transitions, and be able to utilize new technology like Telehealth and mobile tablets to have a larger statewide impact.”

 

“We are delighted that Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School faculty and residents at Centrastate will be caring for patients at the new federally qualified health center in Freehold,” said Alfred F. Tallia, MD, MPH, chair of the department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “The partnership among Rutgers, CentraState and the VNAHG is yet another example of our commitment to the health of the central New Jersey communities.

Eventually, the new Greater Freehold Community Health Center is expected to include 32 primary care staff, 14 CentraState family medicine staff, and 36 Children and Family Health Institute staff.

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