South Ward Promise Neighborhood (SWPN), a community-based initiative of the BRICK Education Network, and Saint James Health (SJH), a community health center, celebrated the opening of the South Ward Wellness Center in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday. The wellness center will address a community need to increase health care access to residents in Newark’s South Ward, with a specific focus on expectant mothers.
“I was proud to celebrate the opening of the South Ward Wellness Center,” said Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. “I am pleased to know that the center will have a strong focus on maternal health, pediatrics, vaccines, and mental health issues. This new center will benefit the almost 60,000 residents of Newark’s South Ward as well as the greater Newark community.”
The wellness center was created in response to a community need to increase access to high-quality health care services for all residents. In 2019, SWPN hosted several focus groups with community residents, in which participants identified enhanced access to equity-driven health care as a critical need. SWPN then approached SJH to form a partnership to help deliver these vital health care services to the community.
“Everyone deserves to have access to quality, affordable health care, and residents in Newark’s South Ward will now have access to the South Ward Wellness Center, which will help improve health outcomes and provide critical services to the community,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “I want to thank South Ward Promise Neighborhood and Saint James Health for helping us address a vital need in our community, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact this wellness center will have on families for years to come.”
Located on Clinton Avenue in Newark, the South Ward Wellness Center is committed to bringing high-quality, comprehensive primary care to residents of the South Ward. The new facility will contain three exam rooms, as well as provide mental health care, substance abuse services, adult medicine, pediatrics, and prenatal services.
“Saint James Health is a community health center that is committed to improving the health and wellness of the communities we serve,” said Nicole Fields, chief executive officer of Saint James Health. “Families in Newark’s South Ward deserve to have access to high-quality health care services. That is why we are partnering with South Ward Promise Neighborhood to open the South Ward Wellness Center, which will ensure that we are meeting the vital health care needs of area residents.”
The wellness center is part of the South Ward Healthy Beginnings Program (SWHBP), a comprehensive plan to improve health and education outcomes for children by utilizing a two-generation approach that ensures pregnant women, new mothers, and children ages 0-5 receive integrated quality health care, early childhood education and family services. SWHBP will be based out of the wellness center to assist families with signing up for health care services.
The wellness center is also part of a broader initiative by SWPN and SJH to build a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) in the community, which will largely focus on early childhood development. The South Ward Wellness Center will expand its operations to the FQHC after construction is completed by 2024.