Rutgers University and Quest Diagnostics are expanding their collaboration to further improve access to critical primary care services for uninsured and underinsured patients of the university’s Health Outreach Practice Experience (H.O.P.E.) Clinic in Plainfield, NJ.
Resources from the Quest Diagnostics Foundation will enable the clinic to double its capacity by providing primary care services for a second day of the week.
The clinic previously operated one day each week, with Rutgers faculty and physician assistant students seeing patients who are trying to manage acute and chronic diseases and providing them with referrals to specialists as well as critical education on managing their health conditions. Despite the progress in improving access to primary healthcare services, the students and faculty at H.O.P.E. found themselves regularly turning patients away due to high demand and a limited number of appointments available in a single day.
“Quest Diagnostics and the Quest Diagnostics Foundation have shown, yet again, the power of this private-public collaboration in reducing healthcare disparities in the greater Plainfield community, both through the provision of additional no cost lab tests to our patients and the financial support needed to expand our clinical services,” said Frank Giannelli, director of the H.O.P.E. Clinic and an assistant professor in the physician assistant program at Rutgers School of Health Professions.
Rutgers and Quest initially teamed up last year to provide no-cost laboratory tests to help diagnose and manage acute and chronic diseases. Under the program, clinicians send laboratory orders directly to a nearby Quest Patient Service Center, which allows patients to visit immediately after their appointment. The results are transmitted directly back to the clinic for follow-up with the patient, streamlining the process to make it easier for patients to receive the treatment they need. Quest will continue to offer no-cost lab testing as part of the program expansion, including lab tests for chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, sexually transmitted infections, and Lyme disease.
The grant from the Quest Foundation is part of the Quest for Health Equity (Q4HE) initiative, which provides resources, funding, testing services, and education to address health disparities in underserved communities across the U.S.
“At Quest, we are rooted in our purpose of working together to create a healthier world, one life at a time, and the joint effort with Rutgers is an example of our purpose in practice. Together we are expanding our efforts to reduce barriers to care in an underserved community,” said Michael Floyd, Senior Director and Leader, Q4HE, Quest Diagnostics. “We recognized an opportunity to build on our efforts with the H.O.P.E Clinic to reach more members of the community and hope that this renewed commitment will help provide better access and, ultimately, better health outcomes.”
The H.O.P.E. Clinic, opened in 2021, provides an essential service to a city where about 30 percent of residents are uninsured and 39 percent report not having a primary care provider. It is one of an estimated 1,400 free and charitable clinics in the US that serve about 7 million people annually.
Jose Gutierrez is a staff member from the Rutgers School of Health Professions who works at the clinic two days a week thanks to the expanded relationship between Rutgers and Quest. In his role of program assistant at the H.O.P.E. Clinic, Jose helps people in the community make appointments and get access to healthcare services. Thanks to Jose’s work, community members are seen by students like Alexis Espinoza (pictured above), a third year PA student from San Diego, CA.
“It’s not like a job here,” Jose said recently at the clinic. “It’s more like a family.”