Clinic to move with hospital to Plainsboro

Task force finds little need for it to stay in Princeton

By: Courtney Gross
   A special task force is expected to announce tonight that relocation of the University Medical Center at Princeton’s clinic to the new hospital site in Plainsboro will not be detrimental to Princeton’s low-income residents.
   The Princeton Borough Council is slated to hear the report from the chairwoman of the Task Force on Neighborhood Access to HealthCare when it meets at 7:30 p.m. in Borough Hall.
   The task force unanimously decided to support the move of the clinic to Plainsboro because few residents currently walk to the affordable clinic, the chairwoman of the task force, Claire Jacobus, said Monday.
   She added that the quality of care would be higher at the proposed state-of-the art facility in PLainsboro.
   The entire medical center is expected to move to the new hospital complex in Plainsboro in about 2010.
   A survey was taken of patients from the clinic — which provides medical care for those who can’t afford it — to determine if Princeton residents would be able to access health care if the clinic moves across Route 1.
   According to minutes from the task force’s meeting in September, the survey revealed visits from Princeton residents who could access the clinic only by walking or bicycling represented 1.9 percent of all Princeton-address visits during the course of a year.
   Ms. Jacobus said the raw data disclosed that patients who would be unable to access the clinic by car or public transportation represent a very small number. She added that the medical center has agreed to provide transportation to the new facility for the small percentage who could not find transportation on their own.
   "The clinic should move with the mother ship," Ms. Jacobus said. "A clinic left behind is not what we think will be adequate, or appropriate or the right thing to do," she added.
   If the clinic remained in Princeton, Ms. Jacobus said, the system would become two-tiered, and it would limit the quality of care available.
   The chairwoman also said she does not expect the issue to be contentious.
   In addition to the task force report, the Borough Council is expected to discuss the state’s recent sales tax increase and how it will affect parking garage rates, Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi said.
   The borough received word last week that the 7 percent sales tax that took effect Sunday for certain services not previously subject to a sales tax will be applied to parking garage fees. If the borough absorbs the new tax, Mr. Bruschi said, it would cost about $60,000 a year.
   "We have to recognize the borough is paying that sales tax," Mr. Bruschi said.
   Although the borough is not expected to boost rates immediately, he added, officials will discuss tonight how they will handle the increase in the future.
   Also this evening, the council will introduce an ordinance that ensures all affordable-housing units are kept affordable, despite foreclosures.
   To ensure the municipality is meeting standards set by the state Council on Affordable Housing, the ordinance would mandate all affordable-housing standards remain intact. A public hearing is tentatively set for November on the ordinance.