Newark, NJ -April 14, 2022 — Mayor Ras J. Baraka joined U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr., State Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, South Ward Council Member John Sharpe James, North Ward Council Member Anibal Ramos, Jr., BRICK Education Network Founder and CEO Dominique Lee, Saint James Health CEO Nicole Fields, and South Ward Healthy Beginnings Program Director Jasmine Spencer to open the South Ward Wellness Center today. The Center is located at 491 Clinton Avenue.
The new facility was created in response to a community need to increase health care access for residents in Newark’s South Ward, with a specific focus on expectant mothers. The week of April 11-17 is recognized annually as Black Maternal Health Week nationwide.
“Everyone deserves to have access to quality, affordable health care, and residents in Newark’s South Ward will now have access to the South Ward Wellness Center, which will help improve health outcomes and provide critical services to the community,” said Mayor Baraka. “I want to thank South Ward Promise Neighborhood and Saint James Health for helping us address a vital need in our community, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact this wellness center will have on families for years to come.”
“I was proud to celebrate the opening of the South Ward Wellness Center,” said Rep. Payne, Jr. “I am pleased to know that the center will have a strong focus on maternal health, pediatrics, vaccines, and mental health issues. This new center will benefit the almost 60,000 residents of Newark’s South Ward as well as the greater Newark community.”
“From expectant mothers, to infants, and entire families, the South Ward Wellness Center will stand as a beacon of a public health promise,” said Senator Ruiz. “I look forward to the impact the wellness center will have on Newark’s residents. I want to thank South Ward Promise Neighborhood and Saint James Health for stepping up and providing our residents with much-needed access to high-quality health care.”
In 2019, SWPN hosted several focus groups with community residents, in which participants identified enhanced access to equity-driven health care as a critical need. SWPN then approached SJH to form a partnership to help deliver these vital health care services to the community.
The South Ward Wellness Center is committed to bringing high-quality, comprehensive primary care to residents of the South Ward. The new facility will contain three exam rooms, as well as provide mental health care, substance abuse services, adult medicine, pediatrics, and prenatal services.
“South Ward Promise Neighborhood is committed to supporting children and families from Newark’s South Ward at every stage of development – from cradle to college and a career,” said Mr. Lee, Founder and CEO of BRICK Education Network. “This is accomplished by creating an ecosystem of high-quality wraparound support services that will break down walls, build up our youth and set up future generations for success. By opening up the South Ward Wellness Center, we are helping to meet community needs, build a healthier community and create a brighter future for our children.”
“Saint James Health is a community health center that is committed to improving the health and wellness of the communities we serve,” said Ms. Fields. “Families in Newark’s South Ward deserve to have access to high-quality health care services. That is why we are partnering with South Ward Promise Neighborhood to open the South Ward Wellness Center, which will ensure that we are meeting the vital health care needs of area residents.”
The wellness center is part of the South Ward Healthy Beginnings Program (SWHBP), a comprehensive plan to improve health and education outcomes for children by utilizing a two-generation approach that ensures pregnant women, new mothers, and children ages 0-5 receive integrated quality health care, early childhood education and family services. SWHBP will be based out of the wellness center to assist families with signing up for health care services.
“It is truly meaningful to celebrate the opening of the South Ward Wellness Center during Black Maternal Health week because we know that the wellness center will allow us to reach so many expectant mothers in need,” said Ms. Spencer. “The South Ward Healthy Beginnings Program is an innovative, new program that is working to improve health and education outcomes for pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children. This new wellness center will help us increase health equity and improve our quality of life in the South Ward.”
The wellness center is also part of a broader initiative by SWPN and SJH to build a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) in the community, which will largely focus on early childhood development. The South Ward Wellness Center will expand its operations to the FQHC after construction is completed by 2024.
For photographs of the event, click here.
About South Ward Promise Neighborhood
The South Ward Promise Neighborhood (SWPN) is a community-based initiative of the BRICK Education Network. SWPN partners with a network of 26 organizations to lift up Newark’s South Ward families and children by ensuring children who live in the South Ward are provided support at every stage of development – from birth to college and a career. This system of family and community support services – which includes access to high-quality early childhood centers, schools, healthcare and housing – is designed to break down barriers and build up kids. To learn more about SWPN, visit: https://southwardpromise.org/.
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