Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 33
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
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Eligible Clinic Patients, Senior Citizens Will Be Transported Gratis to New Hospital

Anne Levin

Plans to make the University Medical Center at Princeton accessible to the local community once the hospital moves to its new facility in Plainsboro next spring continue to evolve. Patients who currently walk to the hospital’s charity care clinic will be eligible for free transportation from the current hospital site in the heart of Princeton to the new complex on Route 1, where the new clinic will be established. Subsidized service for senior citizens, who currently have access to free transportation to the hospital through the Crosstown 62 service, will continue at the new site.

“This is something that has been worked on extensively since the very early stages of planning for the new hospital,” said Dr. Margaret Lancefield, medical director of the Outpatient Clinic. “There were a lot of discussions with the community. The question was, ‘What about the people who live nearby and walk to the clinic?’ We are certainly very concerned about a group of patients getting the care they need.”

While there are those in the neighborhood surrounding the existing hospital complex who walk to the clinic for care, the number is less than was originally assumed. “We had done some studies to try and find out how many people actually walk to see us, and it turns out to be incredibly small,” said Dr. Lancefield. “The number could probably be counted with your fingers and toes. Most patients come by car or public transportation.”

Those who do walk to the clinic and have no other means of getting to the new complex will be provided with transportation. “The nature of that transportation is still being worked out. But there is no doubt that it will be arranged,” Dr. Lancefield said.

The medical center’s new Community Health Center, serving uninsured and under-insured patients, is funded by a $6 million grant made in 2007 by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. The facility will have medical and mental health services including individual psychotherapy, family therapy, addiction counseling and case management. The BMS grant also supports health and outreach programs that will be held in a medical office on the current hospital campus.

As the May 2012 move approaches, plans call for informational fliers written in English and Spanish to be distributed to all clinic patients as well as social services agencies, churches, social groups, government officials, and medical professionals. UMCP is working with Princeton University and New Jersey Transit to develop a direct bus line between Princeton and Plainsboro. Currently, the 605 bus or the Dinky can take passengers to Princeton Junction station, where the 600 bus will pick up riders and stop at the new hospital.

About 5,000 patients utilize the outpatient clinic at UMCP. Those who are non-English speaking are largely Hispanic, but the clinic also treats people from Pakistan, India, China, Poland, and other countries. The decision was made early on to move the clinic to the Plainsboro location rather than keeping it in downtown Princeton. According to Dr. Lancefield, the state-of-the-art, expanded facility will offer patients a new level of care that will be accessible to all.

“No one will be left behind,” she said.

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