The Joseph Lacroce Foundation has pledged $1 million in support of Virtua Health’s Pediatric Mobile Services program — an initiative it helped to launch in 2018 with an equally generous donation. Through this gift, not-for-profit Virtua Health will launch a second mobile health van to further improve access to vital screenings and services for children.
“We are proud to make this commitment in memory of my son, Joseph, who lost his life to leukemia as a child. For many years, bringing medical services and smiles to children in South Jersey has been a special way to celebrate the joy he brought to everyone,” Saverio “Sam” Lacroce, founder and president of the Joseph Lacroce Foundation, said. “Renewing our support of Virtua Health’s Pediatric Mobile Services program — so it can expand and serve even more children — means so much to me, my family and everyone who is part of the Joseph Lacroce Foundation.”
The pediatric mobile services program presently operates five to six days a week, offering a range of free services inside a welcoming, colorful, 25-foot van that was reconfigured as a mobile clinic. Virtua staff visit schools, day cares and other community gathering places to provide back-to-school physicals, vaccinations and screenings for developmental delays (ages 6 and under), lead poisoning, hearing or vision challenges and dental diseases. The program logs more than 4,000 patient encounters annually; approximately one out of four children are referred to medical specialists for follow-up care.
“Many New Jersey neighborhoods contend with socioeconomic and cultural factors that create barriers to care. Through our mobile health program, we can improve access and intervene during a child’s initial, critical period of development,” Maria Franchio, vice president of rehabilitation services for Virtua Health, said. “We believe we can improve the trajectory of a child’s life by providing them and their family with medical care, information and resources to promote good health.”
Thanks to the Joseph Lacroce Foundation and a network of supporters representing both the public and private sectors, Virtua has ordered a second fully customized van to double its current capacity. When it takes the road (anticipated in late 2024), the second vehicle will primarily provide medical care (physicals, vaccinations) so that the original vehicle can be dedicated to early education and preventive health screenings.