At Saint Peter’s, expanded Family Health Center will extend ability to serve

$12M renovation will enable system to better serve underserved in New Brunswick, Middlesex County

Saying it will offer greater care — and greater access — for the most vulnerable in New Brunswick, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System unveiled its newly expanded Family Health Center earlier this week.

The center, which underwent a $12 million modernization, now offers comprehensive primary and specialty care to adults, children and women, many of whom are among the city’s most vulnerable, with a full spectrum of services, including adult medicine; women’s obstetrical and gynecological care, including prenatal care; pediatrics; physical therapy; laboratory services; and behavioral health counseling.

The new 73,000-square-foot center, which currently has 60,000 visits per year, will now have the capacity for 100,000 visits.

Among the improvements:

  • Expanded and upgraded 49 adult, pediatric and women’s health exam rooms to 76;
  • Added a new on-site outpatient laboratory;
  • Expanded the behavioral health area;
  • Created a large physical therapy space;
  • Renovated the reception area;
  • Performed infrastructure upgrades to the heating/ventilation and air conditioning systems and electrical services.

To reduce food insecurity among its patients, the Family Health Center is launching the Saint Peter’s Market, stocked with fresh produce and nonperishable food, as well as personal care items including diapers, wipes and hygiene products. Predictive analytics gleaned from screening data will assist in assessing patients’ risk for illness and hospitalization based on social determinants of health.

The upgrades will enable Saint Peter’s to further impact the well-being of the most vulnerable in the surrounding communities, including those most affected by health care disparities.

Approximately 85-90% of the individuals cared for at Saint Peter’s Family Health Center are covered by the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicaid Managed Care or the New Jersey Hospital Care Payment Assistance Program (Charity Care). In the city of New Brunswick, approximately 34% of the residents are living below the federal poverty level.

Saint Peter’s CEO Les Hirsch said the upgrades will have a big impact.

“I am so excited that we’ve arrived at this moment,” he said. “Saint Peter’s Catholic mission of humble service to humanity comes to life daily at the Family Health Center.

“The Family Health Center provides comprehensive clinical services, but a big part of what we do is to focus on social determinants of health, including food insecurity and other environmental factors that impact a patient’s overall wellbeing.”

Hirsch said the upgrades include more than just square footage.

“In addition to the quality medical services we provide here, we’ve launched a program to educate patients about the benefits for which they may be eligible; for example, assistance with food, child care, bills, tax credits and more, including addressing the transportation challenges that impact access to care,” he said.

New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill was thrilled.

“Always recognizing that we are our brother and sister’s keeper, Saint Peter’s has been addressing the diverse health needs of our community for over 116 years,” he said. “This revitalized space will expand the ever-advancing range and quality of services available to our residents, ensuring that they receive the absolute best care in a modern and welcoming environment.”

Critical funding for this expansion project came from a $5 million state budget appropriation. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge), a lifelong Middlesex County resident, said the money was well spent.

“It is a marvelous facility and a wonderful accomplishment that the city of New Brunswick, the county of Middlesex and all of us in the state of New Jersey are better because of the completion of this project,” he said. “For so many of us here, this is an extension of our faith and I’m inspired by the commitment to care for the most vulnerable communities.”