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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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OP-ed: Excellence in Health Care Is Local

OP-ed: Excellence in Health Care Is Local

By Michael J. Charlton, President and CEO of AtlantiCare

Michael J. Charlton, President and CEO of AtlantiCare
Michael J. Charlton, President and CEO of AtlantiCare

I am continually enamored by the unique charm of Cape May County. From its pristine beaches to top-rated restaurants and rich history, I consider myself lucky to have grown up just down the road in the Atlantic City area, a short drive to what many, near and far, consider a treasured escape. But it is disheartening to see that the cherished close-knit neighborhoods in the area are facing real challenges when it comes to health care. So much so that people feel they need to travel outside the state to receive excellent care. To me, this is entirely unacceptable.

As CEO and President of AtlantiCare, the largest health care organization in Southeastern New Jersey, I am wholeheartedly committed to ensuring that each of you has access to premier health care services – from exceptional primary care to specialty care and surgical care – right here in your backyard.

Vision 2030

Transformative changes to the local health care landscape are already underway with VISION 2030 – AtlantiCare’s ambitious six-year strategy to redefine how health care is delivered here at home. In short, we are investing $1 billion over the next several years to improve your health and the health of your community. With our plan, we are elevating excellence in care, in part through partnerships and affiliations with world-renowned institutions like the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Institute and Global Neurosciences Institute, enabling us to ensure that residents have access to cutting-edge treatments and unparalleled expertise close to home. And we aim to make a game-changing impact on the local economy in Cape May County and surrounding areas by investing in local talent through our workforce career path, where students earn while they learn valuable skills in the medical field. Our plan is bold, but there is only one way to achieve significant gains, and that is by being open to new ways of doing things.

“VISION 2030 is a bold declaration of our commitment to transforming health care in our region for Cape May County residents and visitors alike.”

Serving Cape May County’s health care needs means addressing troubling health disparities and expanding access to the best care. Data shows that Cape May County has the second lowest population but the highest cancer rate in the state. The premature death rate in the county is higher than state and national averages, and residents here have significantly less access to primary care and behavioral health services than elsewhere. AtlantiCare is actively investing in the county, growing clinical and surgical services across the area and at our Health Park in Cape May Court House. These include specialty cardiology, neurology, endocrinology, and urology care, among other services. Our state-of-the-art surgery center provides gastroenterology, ophthalmology, urology, and general surgery. Through our affiliation with the world-class Cleveland Clinic Cancer Institute, patients facing a cancer diagnosis can now retrieve the latest innovations in cutting-edge cancer care and participate in clinical research right here in Cape May County.

I also know that economic opportunity plays a large role in creating healthier communities. While tourism is certainly an important industry for Cape May County, health care offers year-round employment in a sector that provides a vital service. But we don’t just want to provide jobs; we want to build careers. AtlantiCare’s YOUniversity training platform offers top-tier professional development at no cost to local residents, guiding them towards a career in health care. We are training medical assistants, patient care technicians, and other medical professionals. Our goal is to empower local individuals financially, contributing to the improved well-being of the communities we serve.

World Class Partners

We are also partnering with Drexel University College of Medicine to build a new medical school in Atlantic City and training more nurses and social workers with Stockton University. These endeavors will attract additional professionals to our area – addressing a critical need for providers to serve our local communities.

Leading Technology

Technological innovation is a critical component of VISION 2030. AtlantiCare is partnering with Oracle Health, a global leader in health care technology, to create personalized, proactive care for patients both inside of our care settings and from the comfort of their own homes. Our state-of-the-art Command Center will let us personalize your care further, enabling AtlantiCare to respond to your needs in real-time wherever you are. For instance, we will be able to remotely keep track of patients with diabetes through wearable glucose monitoring devices, enabling patients to feel more connected and secure, knowing that AtlantiCare is focused on keeping them healthy and reacting when they are in distress.

With all these changes designed to keep you healthy, we aim to reduce the need for emergency care. However, when the need arises, AtlantiCare is the region’s only designated trauma center, prepared to treat the most critically ill and injured patients in Southeastern New Jersey. Healthgrades also recognized us in 2024 as the state’s #1 Coronary Heart Intervention Program. Our Atlantic City campus is the only comprehensive stroke program in the region, receiving a Gold Seal from the Joint Commission, the highest and most demanding certification for hospitals treating the most complex stroke cases.

With these best-in-class services in your area and world-renowned cancer care available without traveling across a bridge, AtlantiCare is dedicated to ensuring that the treatment you need is available where you live.

VISION 2030 is a bold declaration of our commitment to transforming healthcare in our region for Cape May County residents and visitors alike. By expanding access to excellent care, leveraging innovative technology, educating and training local talent, and addressing critical community needs, we are poised to make a lasting impact on the health and well-being of our region.

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