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New Free Healthcare Center Opens In Hackensack

Amanda Missey, executive director of BVMI, at the nursing station in the new Lynn Diamond Healthcare Center, named for a donor. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Patients in the waiting room. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Samantha Poremba, BVMI development associate, at one of the new waiting room play centers donated and installed by IKEA. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Magayle Matos working the discharge desk. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Lab Tech Blanca Vidal checking up on patient tests. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Two physicians at the nursing station. In front of them is a Google calendar of the day, updated in real time. They are Dr. Heidi Ahlborn, left, and Dr. Andrew Kagan. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Dr. Harold Bruck, breast specialist, reviewing patient files. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
One of the entrances to the new BVMI on Essex Street in Hackensack. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Volunteers Dale Cook, left, and Patty Halsall work on data analysis and donor databases, respectively. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash

HACKENSACK, N.J. — The Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI) – which offers free health care – has opened its new, 5,000-square-foot center in Hackensack.

The modern spacious center at Essex and State streets provides free primary care to certain populations.

Its previous home in smaller space on Moore Street is slated for imminent demolition.

“We’re super pleased to be here,” said President/CEO Amanda Missey, who added operations started up two weeks ago.

“It’s perfect timing. There’s no question there are going to be changes in healthcare. The big question is, How are they going to affect us?”

BVMI provides absolutely free care to any Bergen individual who earns up to $36,000 a year.

A Bergen family of four that earns up to $72,000 a year also qualifies.

As long as they don’t have any insurance. Not Medicaid. Not Medicare. Not private insurance.

Some BVMI patients have insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace but can’t afford the deductibles or copays, which essentially means they don’t have coverage.

A lot of immigrants come to the center, Missey noted.

Given the current political climate regarding immigrants, many are now afraid to go anywhere, she noted.

“So are we going to see a decline in our patients who are foreign born?” she asked.

“Are we also going to see an overall increase in the number of people who come here because they’ve lost their insurance?”

RELATED: New Digs, Patients For Hackensack’s Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative

RELATED: Larger Free Health Center To Open In Hackensack At Christmas

If Medicaid funding is cut back, many who lose that coverage could wind up at BVMI’s fancy new doorstep, too.

Like everyone else, Missey can’t know what will happen.

The 1,000 patients now using the center, though, are enjoying some happy statistics.

The place has 15 paid staffers as well as 65 clinical professionals, including doctors and nurses, who volunteer their services.

“We also have 200 referral specialists who agreed to take our patients,” explained Samantha Poremba, BVMI development associate.

Last year, the center collectively logged 4,900 volunteer hours, she added.

BVMI is operating at 50 percent capacity, Poremba said, which means it could double the number of its patients and volunteers.

The center’s budget went up from $950,000 from last year to $1 million this year.

“Now we need an attendant increase in volunteers and philanthropic support,” Missey said.

The public is invited to a grand opening reception 2-4 p.m. May 21 at BVMI , 75 Essex St., Hackensack. To contact BVMI, CLICK HERE .

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