RWJBarnabas Health and Saint James Health recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony for two new joint programs–a new Retail Pharmacy and The Food “Farmacy”—to help address issues of health equity, access to care, and health outcomes in the City of Newark. Both programs serve patients of Saint James Health Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) at 228 Lafayette Street, Newark, in the Ironbound section of the city.
The on-site retail pharmacy provides 340b program discounted medication and education to patients and allows patients to pick up prescriptions at the time of their appointment, improving affordability of and access to vital medication. This model also improves quality of care by facilitating close, direct access of Saint James doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists as they collaborate as a clinical care team.
“A thriving community’s foundation lies in the health and well-being of its residents,” said Nicole Fields, president and chief executive officer, Saint James Health. “We have big plans to deliver health care in a collaborative way that improves the health of the patient and their day-to-day lives. We want there to be a noticeable impact on the access to health care, prescriptions, healthy food, and truly create a healthier Newark.”
The Food “Farmacy” is a healthy food pantry offering fresh produce, refrigerated food and shelf-stable food to improve access to healthy food in a geographic area identified as a food desert. As part of the program, a registered dietician provides nutrition counseling, culturally relevant, healthy recipes, and education to help participants learn how to cook and eat healthfully to improve chronic conditions and to understand why healthy eating is important for overall health and well-being. The Community Food Bank of New Jersey supports this effort as an agency partner of RWJBarnabas Health and Saint James health to enhance the supply of shelf stable products available to patients at the Food “Farmacy.”
“As New Jersey’s largest academic health care system and the largest provider of charity care and care to the beneficiaries of the Medicaid program, we know the importance of ensuring people have access to healthy food and affordable medications when they are sick or are dealing with chronic illness,” said Mark E. Manigan, president and chief executive officer, RWJBarnabas Health. “Through our work here, we have the opportunity to provide that healthy food to help the people of Newark prevent or manage chronic diseases and conditions and we will be able to ensure they have affordable access to the medicine they need to get better, feel better and stay well.”
The 340b retail pharmacy and Food “Farmacy” were created in partnership between RWJBarnabas Health and Saint James Health FQHC through funds from the Our Healthy Newark grant, a $25 million appropriation from the State of New Jersey that will link a core group of federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) to hospital electronic medical records systems, embed community health workers to help patients navigate care, recruit medical specialists who will expand care provided at local clinics and address community social determinants of health on-site or close-by. This collaboration between RWJBarnabas Health and Saint James Health is a pilot for this ongoing work and demonstrates the positive impact that providing care and resources close to home can have on health outcomes.
“You can actually help people live longer lives if you give them access to food, because food is medicine. You give access to a primary care physician, access to housing or access to a healthier environment, it will actually add years to your life,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “Families and kids can come here for primary care physicians because that is number one. Number two, they can come here to get medicine, and then go upstairs and get some food. That’s the trifecta and it’s incredible.
“You get diagnosed; you get your prescription. There is no excuse to not take your meds or get better,” State Senator Teresa Ruiz said. “Accessibility to fresh food, making sure there is access to health care, affordability in medicines – this is a one-stop-shop to make sure Newark residents can thrive.”
The joint initiative is part of a broader effort by RWJBarnabas Health to address health equity and social determinants that impact health outcomes, including access to transportation, primary care facilities, safe housing, affordable medications, health foods and other socio-economic factors.
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