By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — The healthcare and education sectors are significant contributors to the economic growth in the South Jersey region. Amid this growth, healthcare leaders are focusing on making healthcare accessible to the underserved population. 

 

According to the latest Leading Health Indicators Profile Report Index, the access to primary care for the state was not met as of 2017 and there is little or no detectable change in the trend. However, the objectives related to the infant death rate, the death rate due to coronary heart disease and teen obesity have been met, while the objectives for childhood immunization are improving. The leading health indicators are part of the Healthy New Jersey 2020 objectives to communicate high-priority health issues and actions to address them. 

Private and nonprofit healthcare organizations are also playing a key role in addressing healthcare disparities across the state. Such is the case of the charitable, nonprofit organization Inspira Health, which is present in two of the poorest counties in the state: Cumberland County and Salem County. 

“The social determinants of care are problems that cross areas; they are not necessarily healthcare-related. But our goal is to take care of people who live near here and who need our help,” John DiAngelo, president & CEO of Inspira Health, told Invest:. “We have been able to do that for the 20 years that I’ve been with Inspira Health. In fact, we are the only hospital in Cumberland County,” he said. 

Access to basic health treatment due to transportation and affordability is also a big challenge in the region. One of the largest private employers in South Jersey, Virtua Health, is looking to make healthcare accessible to the underserved through its mobile and home-based programs. Virtua Health President and CEO Dennis W. Pullin said in an interview with Invest: that its health system has re-invested over $400 million in the treatment and prevention of chronic health issues over the last five years. 

“We also have an active mobile program, in which we take certain services closer to where our patients live or work. For instance, our mobile pediatric unit provides screening for lead blood levels, flu shots and other services that many times are not available to children due to transportation or affordability issues. We also have a mobile mammography unit, with which we provide over 900 free mammograms yearly to women who are uninsured or underinsured. We have a mobile farmers’ market to provide fruits and vegetables to people at a below-wholesale cost. This year, we distributed over 75,000 pounds of fresh produce,” Pullin said.

Education and awareness are also big factors in the path to make health more accessible. Rothman Orthopaedic Institute is focusing on creating more partnerships to provide affordable care and improve community health, while raising awareness in the communities they serve. 

“We look at the social determinants of health and we do community outreach programs to help raise awareness of ways to improve bone and musculoskeletal health in the communities. We are ahead of the game in understanding what needs to be done to reduce costs,” Rothman Orthopaedic Institute’s president, Alexander Vaccaro, said in an interview with Invest:. “We are looking to create more relationships with healthcare systems and health insurance companies. That is the right thing to do. We are working together with multiple stakeholders to make healthcare safer and more affordable.” 

The Healthy New Jersey 2020 objective is to increase the proportion of adults aged 18 and older with a personal doctor or healthcare provider to 90.0 percent. According to the most recent data from New Jersey State Health Assessment Data, in 2017, 79.2% of New Jerseyans reported having at least one person they think of as their personal doctor or healthcare provider. 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Inspira Health: http://www.inspirahealthnetwork.org/ 

Virtua Health: https://www.virtua.org/

Rothman Orthopaedic Institute: https://rothmanortho.com/