HILLSBOROUGH: Township renews program for kids’ health services

By Audrey Levine, Staff Writer
Other agencies offer discounted care for adults
   In an effort to provide health care services to children whose families do not have health insurance, the township continues to offer the Child Health Conference services to provide immunizations and well visits for infants through those four years of age.
   ”This is for uninsured people,” said Siobhan Spano, deputy health officer. “The state pays for the immunizations. We have clinics here.”
   According to Ms. Spano, the clinic — which has had these services for more than 20 years — also welcomes residents from Millstone Borough, Montgomery and Branchburg who are in need of the visits.
   To keep these shared services going, the Township Committee unanimously approved a resolution Dec. 23 to enter into the agreement with the other towns for the services, which will run through December. Ms Spano said the other towns – which currently only send one or two children to the clinic – each pay about $500 to Hillsborough.
   Members of the Community Visiting Nurses Association, in Somerville, schedule the appointments in Hillsborough, Ms. Spano said, organizing when the children can come to the clinic at the municipal building for the immunizations or visits. She said the nurses hold the clinics one to two times per month.
   ”Also, the Somerset Family Physicians send nurse practitioners to perform the exams,” she said.
   According to Ms. Spano, the state requires that all insurance companies cover the costs of immunizations for children, so these clinics are only for those families without their own health insurance, especially now when so many people are losing their jobs.
   Currently, Ms. Spano said, the service has about 60 children who come in for the appointments, a slight increase over past years.
   Aside from the services in Hillsborough, Ms. Spano said there are other local facilities that offer medical care for those who do not have health insurance. She said these locations are open for either a small cost or for free.
   One such location, Ms. Spano said, is the Plainfield Health Center, which serves both adults and children with low cost care.
   Also, Zarepath, which is affiliated with the Somerset Christian Academy, has volunteer doctors serving those in need.
   Finally, the Women’s Health and Counseling Center, in Somerville, provides gynecological exams, and other primary care for women. The center – which also provides care for men and women with sexually transmitted diseases – has sliding fees, and Ms. Spano said Hillsborough has a contract with them to provide care to residents for lower costs.
   Ms. Spano said the fee is $1,500 this year to account for residents using the service.
   All of these services, Ms. Spano said, are designed to assist those who do not have insurance, especially now with the nation’s economic crisis.
   To make an appointment with Hillsborough’s Child Health Conference services, call the Community Visiting Nurses Association at 908-725-9355.
   To contact the Plainfield Health Center, call 908-753-6401. To contact Zarepath, call 732-537-0737.
   For more information about the Women’s Health and Counseling Center, call 908-526-2335, or visit the Web site at womenandhealth.org.