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OpEd: Lessons Learned in Trenton Shine Light on National Health Care Debate

This OpEd byTrenton Health Team Executive Director Gregory Paulson, published in NJSpotlight, a statewide online newspaper focused on public policy issues, shares how lessons learned over the past 10 years in Trenton offer a way forward in national healthcare debate.

“As our nation continues debating the future of health care, lessons we’ve learned in Trenton over the past decade offer a way forward.

Trenton Health Team began as the answer to an urgent problem — the pending closure of Mercer Medical Center in 2006 and concerns about the effect on city residents who lacked consistent access to primary care and instead relied heavily on emergency rooms.

In response, Capital Health, St. Francis Medical Center, Henry J. Austin Health Center, and the Trenton Department of Health and Human Services began collaborating for the first time. In February 2010, that collaboration was incorporated as Trenton Health Team (THT).

THT has grown significantly since its founding, recently receiving designation as one of New Jersey’s first regional health hubs to collect and disseminate local data, be a conduit between state and local priorities, and serve residents who often lack access to the resources needed to be, and stay, healthy.

Regional health hubs (RHH) have replaced state Medicaid accountable care organizations (ACOs) to better serve residents receiving health care coverage through Medicaid. New Jersey’s regional partnerships — THT, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Healthy Greater Newark and Health Coalition of Passaic County — work with both clinical and social service providers to improve patient care and outcomes. The new law allows expansion of the RHH model in other communities statewide.

As one of the state’s first health hubs, THT works with health care providers and community organizations to integrate, coordinate and align disconnected services to help make our community healthier. Over the years, we have learned how every aspect of a community affects health outcomes, and that we will never get people healthy if we only focus on providing them with more health care.

Likewise, our nation cannot hope to make progress on health care without finding common purpose among diverse stakeholder groups…” Read Full OpEd here