Community Connections Building Bridges to Better Health in the City of Trenton

By developing strong relationships with community partners in Trenton, Capital Health is deepening its connections to the city and expanding access to health care for all its residents.

“As a doctor, I believe that the stability of any community depends on a foundation of good health,” said Dr. Eric Schwartz, executive director of Capital Health’s Institute for Urban Care and practicing internal medicine physician at the new Capital Health Primary Care – Brunswick Avenue office. “Every community has its own unique set of health challenges. Capital Health and our partners on the Trenton Health Team are finding solutions for Trenton residents through collaboration between the city’s health care providers, our local government and community organizations such as churches, schools, and food banks.”

Dr. Schwartz’s connection to Trenton runs deep. In addition to his role as executive director of Capital Health’s Institute for Urban Care, he was part of the founding group that helped launch the Trenton Health Team (THT) and once served as Chief Medical Officer of the Henry J. Austin Health Center, where he authored grants and developed novel programming to tackle HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, childhood obesity, and behavioral health challenges in the Trenton community.

Capital Health and its community partners on the THT have been addressing Trenton’s critical health, education, economic, and environmental challenges for more than a decade.

Among its current success stories, the THT recently announced the Capital City Diabetes Collaborative, a program that helps Trenton residents with diabetes get the care and information they need to better understand and manage their disease. The THT is one of eight grantees supported by the new $16 million, five-year Merck Foundation initiative, Bridging the Gap: Reducing Disparities in Diabetes Care, and Dr. Schwartz serves as program director for the collaborative.

Recently, Capital Health also brought together its long-established partners — the Trenton Health Team, the Rescue Mission, HomeFront, and Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton—to create a specialized Integrated Opioid Treatment Program for pregnant women and new mothers. Funded by the New Jersey Department of Health and drawing from the partners’ decades of experience, the program is designed to promote long-term recovery as well as ongoing medical care and support for these women who are struggling to stop using opioids, such as heroin.

As part of a national initiative funded by BUILD Health (buildhealthchallenge.org), the THT is currently working with the community to create a “Safe and Healthy Corridor” in Brunswick Avenue neighborhoods from the Battle Monument Park to Capital Health Regional Medical Center. Following up on the opening of Capital Health Primary Care – Brunswick Avenue last year, this project will include the cleanup of vacant and abandoned lots, lighting and sidewalk improvements, upgrading parks, and more. The goal is to create a safe space where residents feel comfortable walking, biking, and exercising—activities that improve their overall health and sense of community.

“Capital Health has a tradition of helping Trenton residents address their health care needs,” said Dr. Schwartz. “By building relationships and aligning resources with diverse community partners, we provide services and support well beyond the scope of traditional care and make a significant impact on longstanding issues.”