Federally Qualified Health Center bringing hope to Newark’s North Ward

The Hope & Esperanza Community Health Center — a facility designed to improve access to health care for Newark’s low-income and uninsured residents — recently opened in city’s North Ward.

The center, located at 788 Mount Prospect Ave., is operating as a Federally Qualified Health Center, meaning it is a community-based health care provider that can receives federal funds to provide primary care services in underserved areas.

CEO Michelle Lolo said the center can have a big impact.

“This health center will provide quality preventive and primary health care services that our community so desperately needs,” she said. “We will provide high-quality, culturally competent care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay to ensure everyone has equal access to health care and equity in achieving health outcomes.”

The center provides comprehensive health care, including primary care, urgent care, women’s health, COVID testing and lab services to children, adults and seniors. It also will provide mental health and treatment for substance use disorder and opioid use disorder.

The center, which opened in March, employs a chief medical officer, two nurse practitioners and a psychologist, along with appropriate clinical and administrative support staff.

Lolo estimates the center will be able to serve some 3,300 patients with 8,600 patient visits in 2022. And, like all FQHCs, the center serves patients who are underinsured and uninsured. Patients without insurance are charged based on their income level, using a sliding fee scale.

Lolo said U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) along with U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8th Dist.) were instrumental in helping the center receive more than $624,000 in Service Area Competition-Additional Areas funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration to cover operating costs.

Menendez said he’s looking forward to seeing all the good the center does for this community.

“I have always believed that our community health centers are a key piece of the puzzle that is making health care more affordable and accessible to everyone in this country,” Menendez said. “That’s what community health centers do. They provide high-quality care for patients, no matter where they’re from, what kind of health challenges they face and whether or not they have insurance or can pay for it.”

Lolo hopes the Hope & Esperanza Community Health Center helps fill a void that was left when Rutgers Community Health Center ended its role as an FQHC in Newark. The city has several other FQHCs, including those run by Newark Community Health Center, Saint James Health and the city’s Department of Health and Community Wellness. Several public schools in the city also have FQHCs run by the Jewish Renaissance Medical Center.