Faces of the Uninsured

Dear Lourdes Supporter:

At the State House in Trenton, Catholic Health East New Jersey recently cast a spotlight on the Faces of the Uninsured.  With the support of Senate Deputy Majority Leader Joseph F. Vitale, we hosted a photo exhibit that profiled some of our patients who struggle to maintain their health without medical coverage.  We did so to emphasize the vital importance of the partnership that must be sustained between health-care providers and the State if we are to continue delivering the care our patients need, regardless of their ability to pay.

The portraits of our patients should look familiar to all New Jerseyans.  They are our neighbors, our friends, our family members.  They hail from all over our state, facing cancer, diabetes, and other serious illnesses with no health insurance.  We called upon our state legislators to remember these faces and all who have lost their jobs and health insurance in this economic downturn.

With our Franciscan roots, the hospitals of Catholic Health East New Jersey have always been committed to delivering the best in compassionate care, with a special focus on those in greatest need.  However, we cannot do it alone.

We are the state’s largest faith-based hospital system, and our mission touches many, many lives.  This year, our hospitals will report more than 50,000 admissions, 155,000 emergency department visits, and 400,000 outpatient and same-day procedures.  And together we will provide more than $86.2 million in charity care services, providing top-quality care to many people who do not have medical coverage and who — because of age or income — do not qualify for government programs.

But statistics are impersonal.  They can tell you the scope of an issue — they can’t show you its face.  Take a few minutes to look closely at the Faces on the Uninsured — portraits that capture the dignity of each individual.  

We cannot let a woman whose breast cancer has returned die because she lost her job and health insurance.  We cannot turn away young people with juvenile diabetes because they work as freelancers and have no medical coverage.  And we cannot let a lack of health coverage prevent a young athlete with a fractured ankle from receiving the expert treatment that will allow her to compete again.

The reality, of course, is that our continued ability to pursue our charitable mission remains largely dependent on our collaborative partnership with the State.

Our role in this partnership is to develop and implement innovative, cost-effective ways to provide the care New Jerseyans need and deserve.  And our hospitals are doing just that — in Newark, Trenton, Willingboro, and Camden.  For example, you can see that commitment in our new PACE programs — Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly; in our efforts to promote the efficiency and convenience of tele-medicine; and in our participation in a coalition to address the needs of diabetics in Greater Camden.

The State’s role in this health-care partnership is an essential one.  Faith-based or secular, New Jersey hospitals all depend on the State to support our delivery of top-quality care by adequately funding Medicaid, medical education, charity care, and other programs that help ensure access to care for all in need. 

On behalf of the men, women, and children we serve, we urge our legislators and Governor Corzine to recognize the tremendous importance of upholding the State’s end of the partnership.  

Will hospitals receive the support they need to continue delivering care to every New Jerseyan, regardless of his or her ability to pay?  We are counting on our partners in Trenton to remember the Faces of the Uninsured when they answer that question.

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