Suzy Dyer, Esq., is Executive Director of the Parker Family Health Center, a member of the Quality Institute’s Consumer Council.
Parker Family Health Center provides free medical care to Monmouth County residents without health insurance. How do you financially support your work?
We support our work through fund development — specifically through grants and individual fundraising. In a typical year, we also have two major fundraising events. This year, we had hoped to celebrate Parker’s 20th anniversary with an additional special event but, for the safety of our donors, supporters and volunteers, we canceled all three events. We’re hoping once the COVID vaccine has been rolled out we can revisit these events, as they account for about 10 percent of our budget.
Who is eligible to receive care from Parker?
There are three basic requirements for becoming a Parker patient. A patient needs to be a Monmouth County resident. They must be living without health insurance. And their annual income needs to be at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. That equates to $38,280 for a single person and $78,600 for a family of four.
Our research found that 53,000 Monmouth County residents are currently without health insurance. There is a great need that keeps increasing during the pandemic as people lose their jobs and insurance.
We help people who do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford insurance — the people who fall through the cracks. Last year, we logged over 7,500 visits and since our inception we’ve had over 165,000 visits. Last year, our pharmacy program alone was able to provide patients who qualified with approximately $1 million in pharmacy assistance.
Your clinical staff members are predominantly volunteers. Can you tell us what kinds of services you provide and how the service works?
At Parker, we are fortunate to have more than 150 doctors, nurses, interpreters, and administrative volunteers who donate their time and talents to support Parker’s mission. We offer primary care, pediatrics, pediatric dentistry, chronic disease management, and counseling. We also offer social services, a pharmacy assistance program, a women’s health program and immunizations. We are fortunate to also have a number of specialists, including those in endocrinology, nephrology, cardiology, neurology, rheumatology, gynecology, pulmonology, and orthopedics. These specialists volunteer at our clinic. If they can’t get to our clinic, these specialists will see our patients in their offices free of charge. We are always looking for more volunteers.
What organizations support your work?
We are fortunate to partner with Hackensack Meridian Health, RWJBarnabas Health, the VNA Health Group, and Planned Parenthood. We also partner with Fulfill NJ, the food pantry for Monmouth and Ocean counties, and the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County. Fulfill comes to Parker on the first Thursday of every month, not just for our patients, but also for the community at large. The VNA partners with us for cancer screening and on our women’s wellness program. RWJ Barnabas and Hackensack Meridian provide access to volunteers and charity care. And we are very fortunate that Hackensack works with us and provides lab work free of charge.
How can Quality Institute members support what you’re doing?
Quality Institute members can support Parker by spreading the word about the services we provide to patients who need us. And, finally, please consider partnering with us to provide services to our patients. We are always looking to partner with more people and organizations.
Parker was the only volunteer medical clinic in New Jersey able to remain open throughout the pandemic. Now we are seeing many people released from the hospital who still need post-COVID services. Some are existing patients and some are new to Parker. We are treating everyone we can.