February 24, 2014

The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ) has announced they will be hosting their first Health and Wellness fair next month in Jersey City on March 14th, reports NJBIZ. The fair will feature more than 50 exhibitors and panel discussions for those who attend. SHCCNJ encourages community members and their families to come to the event, which they hope will be an annual occurrence.

NJHCQI Vice President Linda Schwimmer was quoted in the article. “We think chambers of commerce and mayors are great partners in promoting health and wellness to employees and residents,” said Linda Schwimmer, vice president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. The institute’s Mayors Wellness Campaign seeks to get the state’s mayors to promote health and wellness among their residents.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop will be featured as one of the key speakers at the event. From the article: Schwimmer said Fulop “is one of the Mayors Wellness Campaign stars. He has the city employees walking and running and drinking healthy smoothies.”

Read the full story…



Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman

The death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman sadly once again highlights the resurgence of heroin-related deaths, a public health tragedy often linked to the rising abuse of prescription pain medications.

The actor’s death has sparked calls for new regulations to make Naloxon, an opiate antidote, more freely distributed and available to addicts and their families. But would more freely distributed Naloxone make heroin use safer?

Of course the answer is yes. But is safer heroin a good thing?

Again, the answer in my view is yes.

People may feel uneasy with efforts to save drug users from the ultimate consequence of their addiction. Drug-related deaths are a potential deterrent to starting drugs. No doubt fear of death may drive some into rehab or cause some not to take up the drug in the first place. And I suspect that at least some “finger waggers” see drug addiction as a moral failure that deserves the most severe punishment.

But ultimately addiction is a public health issue and I know I have to choose life. To any of those who want to withhold Naloxone from those dying of an overdose I ask this: Could you stand in Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s hotel room with a dose of Naloxone in your pocket and simply watch this gifted and talented father-of-three slowly die?

I believe we would all want to save a life — Hoffman’s and anyone else’s.

About 85 percent of heroin users are not alone when they overdose and can be saved if someone can administer the antidote. Heroin deaths are not instantaneous and can take one to four hours. Naloxone is safe and effective.

Naloxone is not the solution for addiction, surely, or even addiction-related deaths. Getting off drugs and living a sober life is the main goal and the best way to truly eliminate heroin deaths. But as a nation we believe in recovery and second chances. Naloxone provides an opportunity for drug users to get help and the antidote can give someone that second chance at life. Let’s loosen the restrictions on Naloxone and save more lives.

February 17, 2014


The Mayors Wellness Campaign is an initiative created by the NJ Health Care Quality Institute in partnership with the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University and in association with the Regional Plan Association, New Jersey State League of Municipalities and the Ramapo College Nursing Program. The goal of the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign is to increase opportunities for New Jersey residents to participate in daily physical activity with a long-term goal of reducing health care costs secondary to obesity. The MWC will work to implement a comprehensive program of outreach, education and technical assistance activities to combat obesity and inactivity issues for all state residents.

Visit Old Bridge Township’s MWC



Let’s not even get into the privacy concerns raised when a CEO describes the very expensive medical costs of two “distressed” babies, even obliquely, during an employee conference call.

At least one of the mothers knew the CEO meant her baby and has stated so publicly. (You can read her comments here)

That’s what happened when AOL’s chief executive, Tim Armstrong, blamed the company’s decision to cut retirement benefits on the cost of caring for two babies — the children of employees — whose medical costs each reached $1 million. The families who used their medical benefits to save the lives of their infants were then blamed for the company’s decision to cut benefits for everyone. Talk about adding “insult to injury!”

One of the points missed in this raging social media debate is that AOL could have saved its CEO an embarrassing moment and spared two families additional pain by having adequate re-insurance.

Like many large companies, AOL is self-insured. It pays the medical bills of its employees and their families and does not purchase health insurance, though AOL does use an insurer to administer the benefits. That may seem like a good course for a very large company, especially one with a relatively young work force.

But it would make sense for AOL and other self-insured companies to have adequate re-insurance so that catastrophic medical events don’t push company finances into turmoil. The additional cost of sufficient re-insurance could be well worth it for firms like AOL.

After all, we know that medical emergencies and complications most certainly will occur at some point. Humans get sick, or get into car accidents, or have sick babies.

I prefer to think that AOL needs better reinsurance than to believe the CEO would use the medical challenges of two families as an excuse to cut pension benefits. That would be too distressing to believe.



February 7, 2014

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Wellness is defined as “achieving a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit that results in overall feeling of well-being.” While there are many factors that contribute to wellness, concentrating our efforts on a Township wide initiative can help lead to a healthier, happier, and more successful community.

Visit http://www.cherryhill-nj.com/index.aspx?NID=607  for video of Mayor Cahn discussing their year-long campaign with Comcast Newsmakers and upcoming events.


Today I am turning my blog over to Jeff Brown, my former chief of staff and director of the Quality Institute Collaborative to speak directly to you about a critically important program with an approaching deadline. Please consider sharing Jeff’s blog to those who want to improve health care in their communities.

We know that revolving door emergency room care racks up astronomical bills, and focuses our health care dollars on hospitals instead of services in the community. Worse, we know this episodic care simply is bad for patients.

You may know the pioneering work of Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, founder of the Camden Coalition of Health Care Providers. Dr. Brenner worked to get three competing hospitals in his city to share hospital data and he discovered that a high percentage of health care dollars were being used by a relatively small number of patients. In fact, 10 percent of Camden patients are responsible for nearly 75 percent of healthcare costs.

Dr. Brenner’s “hot-spotting” data revealed who was using the hospital most and why. He then set out to develop creative solutions to bring compassionate and patient-centric care to help keep these high utilizers well instead of just patching them up when they got sick.

We need to export Dr. Brenner’s techniques to other communities in our state – and that’s what our new program with the QI Collaborative and the Camden Coalition — supported by The Nicholson Foundation — sets out to do. We are accepting proposals from five New Jersey communities who must apply by February 10. The selected communities will be part of the “hot-spotting” initiative and the Camden group will analyze hospital data in their communities.

Hospitals, FQHCs, public health officials and primary care physicians can apply on behalf of their communities. Local hospitals must participate and be willing to share data that protects the names of patients. The data analysis is the first step toward building new ways to reach and care for people with chronic illnesses, many of them low-income and some perhaps homeless or living with mental illness.

The opportunity for saving health care dollars, and improving health care, is great. Dr. Brenner talks in greater depth about the hot-spotting program to NJ Spotlight. (Insert link) Health care policy experts from around the nation are watching what’s happening in Camden. Dr. Brenner just received a MacArthur “genius” grant. It’s time we start bringing what we’ve learned in Camden to other New Jersey city and communities.

To apply, email: jbrown@njhcqi.org