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Editorial: Trenton Health Team’s Efforts Provide Hope for City Residents

There is Reason for Hope in Trenton

The city and some of its leaders are under a dark cloud of scrutiny as the FBI investigates matters that may involve power and influence.

At the same time, however, a new approach to the health care of the most powerless and least influential may lead the way toward a stronger, sounder city.

Support for revitalizing the city’s health center clinics has come from the Trenton Health Team, a partnership among the city, St. Francis Medical Center, Capital Health System, Henry J. Austin Health Centers and a number of civic and charitable organizations.

Trenton’s new health officer believes the health center can be revived by enlisting the help of volunteers and the federal government.

James Brownlee says he’s assured of commitments from volunteer health-care professionals who have retired from St. Francis and Capital Health’s facilities.

“I do know just from conversations with board members of the Trenton Health Team that there has been an interest expressed at both hospitals, and previous physicians that have retired from both have said they’d be willing to volunteer their time in a clinic setting,” Brownlee said. “My feeling is we’re not going to have a problem.”

He’s looking for help from the government in the form of designation as a federal free clinic, a status that would provide essential malpractice insurance for the new staff of volunteer doctors, nurses and other professionals who have retired.

Once that’s in place, Brownlee anticipates a gradual restoration of the center clinics and their specialized services. Eventually, though, he expects they will provide a range of services recommended under state standards.

Among those most acutely in need of care are children, pregnant women and those with tuberculosis. Accessible primary care for those populations, as well as others, not only benefits patients; it’s a much more cost-effective way of dispensing care than through hospital emergency rooms.

With no other alternative, that’s where many of the city’s poor go for treatment. Care cannot be denied at hospital ERs, but the costs are prohibitive, taxing the hospitals’ resources and the public’s pocketbook.

Ongoing research to determine the needs of city residents and data on area ER visits will help shape the plans for restoring the clinics and, as Brownlee says, establishing “medical homes” in Trenton where patients can be assured of care.

As those plans evolve, we’re glad to see this bright new prospect for the health and well-being of Trenton’s most vulnerable residents.

About the Trenton Health Team
Trenton Health Team (THT) is an alliance of the city’s major providers of healthcare services including Capital Health, St. Francis Medical Center, Henry J. Austin Health Center and the city’s Health Department. In collaboration with residents and the city’s active social services network, THT is developing an integrated healthcare delivery system to transform the city’s fragmented primary care system and restore health to the city. THT aims to make Trenton the healthiest city in the state. Support for the Trenton Health Team was provided in part by a grant from The Nicholson Foundation. For more information, visit