For Immediate Release: December 21, 2016
AtlantiCare held its eleventh annual candlelight vigil at the William L. Gormley HealthPlex in Atlantic City on December 19, in memory of those who passed away homeless in 2016 and in advance of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day – December 21.
Community members, AtlantiCare healthcare providers, and partner organizations Atlantic City Rescue Mission, Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties, and Covenant House New Jersey joined AtlantiCare for the event. AtlantiCare staff donated coats, hats, scarves and other essential items, which AtlantiCare distributed to the homeless and others in need.
During the vigil, members of AtlantiCare Mission HealthCare’s Community Advisory Board read the names of many who passed away homeless in 2016, as attendees held candles.
Guest speaker Jennifer Hansen, of Margate, chief executive officer, Enlightened Solutions and founder and chairman, The Hansen Foundation, shared her recovery story, including that she has been clean and sober for more than 20 years.
"It was a long road. I had to learn how to live and work again," shared Hansen, who spent many years in and out of homelessness before entering a sober living house.
Hansen, along with her family, recognized the need to address addiction recovery and sober living in the community. They started the Foundation in 2001 and opened Hansen Houses, substance abuse and halfway houses, to help individuals recover and stay clean.
"Here I am 20 years later. This is what can happen when you stay clean and focused, and when you allow people to help you,” she said. “There are many people who are trying to help make the lives better for individuals who suffer from addiction, homelessness, or mental illness.”
"We show up every day to provide services to the men and women who walk through these doors," said Vinnie Kirkland, case manager, AtlantiCare Mission HealthCare. "There is hope, and there are resources. We – AtlantiCare, our partners, and volunteers – are here to help you. We are here to serve you."
"We care about you and we're never going to give up," said Sandy Festa, administrative director, AtlantiCare HealthPlex. "We’re committed to one day not see diabetes, to not see heart disease, and to not see homelessness. We’re working closely with our partners to increase housing options, and I think we're turning a corner," Festa added.
Every year since its inception in 1990, National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day has taken place in cities around the country on or around December 21 - the first day of winter and the longest night of the year. This is the eleventh year AtlantiCare has participated. The event is co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the National Consumer Advisory Board and the New Jersey Advocacy Network to End Homelessness.
About AtlantiCare Mission HealthCare/Community Health Services
AtlantiCare Mission HealthCare/Community Health Services, located at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and AtlantiCare Community Health Services and in the William L. Gormley AtlantiCare HealthPlex in Atlantic City, is among 20 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in the state and one of only five that serve homeless.
The top three diagnoses the AtlantiCare Mission HealthCare/Community Health Services team treats are hypertension, diabetes and respiratory conditions. The services include primary care and physical exams; case management; disease management; medication administration and distribution; health screenings for diabetes and heart disease; tuberculosis testing; drug and alcohol counseling; HIV/AIDS testing and counseling; and psychiatric services. Patients pay on an income-based sliding fee scale; no one is turned away, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.
AtlantiCare Mission HealthCare/Community Health Services staff includes physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, an advanced practice psychiatric nurse, a licensed practical nurse, clinical social workers, medical assistants, case managers and educators. Clients are identified through hospital discharges, mobile outreach and collaboration with community social services including the Atlantic County Women’s Center, Jewish Family Services and Covenant House.
AtlantiCare, a member of Geisinger Health System, is an integrated system of services designed to help people achieve optimal health. It includes AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, AtlantiCare Health Engagement, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and AtlantiCare Health Services. Its more than 5,400 employees and more than 700 physicians serve the community in nearly 70 locations. A 2009 Malcolm Baldrige Award winner, AtlantiCare was also included in Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2010. ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet™ designated hospital in March of 2004 and was redesignated a Magnet™ hospital in 2008 and 2013.