PLAINFIELD, NJ – A reception and ribbon cutting ceremony took place Monday to mark the official opening of the Heath and Raoul Pantaleoni Satellite Emergency Department (SED) at the JFK-Muhlenberg Campus. The facility is located at the corner of Park Avenue and Randolph Road in Plainfield. Close to 100 people, including hospital leaders, physicians and nurses along with Plainfield and South Plainfield officials and residents attended the Nov. 23 event.
The $2 million state-of-the-art satellite emergency department officially opened Nov. 11; prior, JFK-Muhlenberg operated a satellite ER out of an adjacent building on the Plainfield campus. According to Ray Fredericks, president and CEO of JFK Health, the new SED offers residents of Plainfield and the surrounding communities 24/7 access to high quality care, low wait times, rapid assessment and similar capabilities as a hospital-based emergency department. The facility is staffed by experienced and professional board-certified physicians, specialty trained nurses, and other healthcare professionals, all of whom are affiliated with JFK Medical Center.
“We strive day in and day out to provide excellent, excellent care to the citizens of Plainfield and the surrounding communities,” said Fredericks. “Patients who come here are not sacrificing any of the quality services they would get over in Edison.”
The satellite emergency department offers primary care for adult and pediatric patients with low severity conditions (who may also require basic life support), including but not limited to, general medical conditions (colds, flu, sore throats, ear aches, sinus infections); mild asthma exacerbations; minor burns; sprains/broken bones; fevers/rashes; lacerations/stitches; upper respiratory conditions; urinary tract infections; mild allergic reactions; minor musculoskeletal and head injuries; wound care; and minor motor vehicle/work injuries.
Additionally, what sets the Muhlenberg facility apart is that it offers patients access to a variety of diagnostic services, including CAT scans – which are not required at satellite ER facilities – and lab services.
“Patients can expect to receive the same exact care here as they would at our Edison campus,” said Judy McNulty, RN, clinical director of emergency services for JFK. “We can handle most things that walk through the door and offer residents the opportunity to be cared for in their community by JFK staff. Our goal is to remain a presence in the community to meet all health care needs.”
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Fredericks thanked all those who made the satellite emergency department possible and noted that the clinical staff, specifically JFK-Muhlenberg physicians and nurses, played a significant role in the design and planning of the new department. “They are the ones who know what our patients need the most – from the layout and design to the functionality – and they did a phenomenal job,” he said.
Funding for the new SED at JFK-Muhlenberg came from various sources, including the Muhlenberg Foundation and a $500,000 donation made to the emergency department in memory of Heath and Raoul Pantaleoni of Metuchen prior to Muhlenberg closing,
At Monday’s ribbon cutting, Fredericks personally thanks the Pantaleonis daughters, Nina Weil of Plainfield and Flavia Blechinger of Scotch Plains for their generous donation. “I want to thank Nina Weil and Flavia Blechinger for their phenomenal gift,” Fredericks said. “They have been steadfast in their commitment to making this vision actually happen.”
According to Blechinger, the donation to the hospital was a way to pay tribute to their parents. “We wanted to honor our parents who were very involved in the Plainfield community and to have something in memory of them in Plainfield is wonderful,” said Blechinger, noting that her late father was a founding member of JFK Edison and that Weil was also very involved with the Muhlenberg Foundation at one time.
“It is very important for there to be an emergency department in the community and the main beauty of this satellite department is that residents will be able to get immediate medical service here,” said Blechinger.
“This ER could not have been possible without Nina and Flavia,” said Peter Pogany, chairman of the Muhlenberg Foundation. “Our sincerest thanks go to them for their longstanding support of Muhlenberg and the Plainfield area.”
Pogany also thanked the Muhlenberg Foundation and Board of Directors, Fredericks, the JFK Board and Weil and Blechinger for all their support. “Our healthcare system has changed rapidly since I first came to Plainfield in 1976 … and we must look to the future. This new, state-of-the-art ER will serve the residents of Plainfield and the surrounding communities for many years to come. Congratulations to everyone involved in this project.”
Plainfield Police Sergeant Eugene Goldston recently found out first hand just how important having SED at JFK-Muhlenberg in the community is. After finishing up on a special detail assignment, Goldston began to experience chest pain and was taken to the Plainfield campus where he was diagnosed with 100 percent blockage in an artery and transferred immediately to Edison where he underwent surgery. “There is no doubt in my mind is that if this emergency room was not here and he had not been quickly diagnosed, there would have been a different outcome,” said Plainfield’s Director of Public Safety Carl Riley.
“If it wasn't for this facility, I would not have made it to JFK,” said Goldston, a resident of Plainfield for 36 year and member of the police department for 23 years.
Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp, who along with City Councilmembers Diane Toliver and Gloria Taylor attended Tuesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony, said the new, state-of-the-art emergency department means a great deal to the community. “We have great needs in terms of healthcare and I am extremely pleased that we have been able to establish this new facility that will continue to serve the needs of Plainfield residents and those from the surrounding communities,” said Mapp, whose goal as mayor is to see healthcare services return to the rest of Muhlenberg’s 17-acre campus.
“This is a great new beginning … and I hope to continue to work in partnership with the leadership of JFK so that we can continue to provide the level of healthcare services this community definitely needs,” said Mapp.
Fredericks added, “Mayor Mapp, I want to give you my commitment that I will continue to work with you and your administration to your goal of providing phenomenal care on this campus.”