Community Networks

November-December 2000

Partnerships between Catholic Charities and Catholic Healthcare Organizations

Like other healthcare organizations in the United States, Catholic healthcare facilities are developing new relationships with a wide array of partners to extend their ministry and to improve efficiency, coordination, and quality of care.

In forming these partnerships, Catholic-sponsored organizations may have an advantage over others. Through Catholic Charities and other social service programs, the Catholic Church in the United States is the largest provider of human services. In addition, the church's network of almost 20,000 parishes enables healthcare organizations to reach into communities where little infrastructure exists. The current movement toward integration of community-based health and social services creates opportunities for church-sponsored organizations to work together as never before.

Health Progress publishes an ongoing series of case studies of such partnerships, hoping they might serve as models for those creating integrated systems of care. These case studies of Catholic Charities agencies and Catholic health organizations were prepared by the Catholic Health Association as part of New Covenant, an initiative designed to promote collaborative efforts of the Catholic health ministry at the national and regional levels.

Here is another case study. Health Progress will present others in future issues.

If your healthcare organization is collaborating with a Catholic Charities agency in your area, we would like to know about it. Please contact Julie Trocchio by phone at 202-296-3993.

Two Clinics
New Brunswick and Perth Amboy, NJ

Organizational Structure
Catholic Charities manages one clinic, St. John's Family Health Center, New Brunswick, NJ, in collaboration with St. Peter's University Hospital, a Catholic facility in that city. The agency also manages a second clinic, Trinity Health Center, Perth Amboy, NJ, in collaboration with Raritan Bay Health Center, a non-Catholic institution.

Goals of Affiliation
The partners aim to provide primary health care to the poor, working poor, uninsured, and underinsured of two New Jersey communities.

The Project
Catholic Charities of the Metuchen Diocese has for many years directed a network of social services for central New Jersey. One of these services is a food pantry in New Brunswick, whose clientele included many Hispanic immigrants. Because pantry workers had noted that a large percentage of their clients appeared to have untreated health problems, Catholic Charities in the late 1980s added a nurse to the pantry staff to do basic health screening. The agency also began to generate funding for a clinic.

That clinic, St. John's Health Center, was constructed across the street from the pantry, opening its doors in 1991. A second clinic, Trinity Health Center, opened in nearby Perth Amboy in 1997.

Between them, the two clinics treat 7,000 to 8,000 patients a year.

  • St. John's, which is open five days a week (including two evenings), offers family and pediatric medicine; medication assistance; and medical, immunization, and perinatal outreach. The clinic also has an HIV treatment program, with a nurse and outreach workers. The clinic has a full laboratory.
  • Trinity, open five days a week (including one evening), offers family and pediatric medicine and medication assistance and collects lab specimens.

Governance Structure
Catholic Charities manages the clinics with assistance from the two hospitals. The agency and St. Peter's University Hospital work together especially closely—their leaders sit on each other's boards; Catholic Charities provides behavioral health care for St. Peter's patients; and the hospital launders sheets and towels for the agency's shelters.

Staffing and Funding
Each clinic has a medical director. St. John's director is appointed and funded by St. Peter's, a teaching hospital; Trinity's is appointed (with funding from various sources) by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).

Each medical director supervises a physician's assistant, a nursing staff, and several UMDNJ students, all of whom serve eight-week rotations. St. John's also has a lab technician (oversight of the lab is provided by St. Peter's).


Mary E. Davey
Assistant Executive Director
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen
Perth Amboy, NJ

Practical Advice
Look for ways to make services mutually helpful, not duplicative. For example, St. Peter's provides some of the best perinatal services in the state, so we don't offer those services ourselves. But we use special grant money to hire outreach workers to refer pregnant women to St. Peter's. We want as many area women as possible to get good first-trimester care.


Copyright © 2000 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Community Networks, November-December 2000

Copyright © 2000 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.