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St. Mary Medical Center Expands Community Ministries
New services also added to enhance outreach to the underserved.

LANGHORNE, Pa., May 22, 2008 – St. Mary Medical Center will mark the expansion of St. Mary Community Ministries in Bensalem with a blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, May 29. The event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at St. Mary Community Ministries on Knights Road in the Bensalem Square Shopping Center. Community leaders and supporting agencies and friends of St. Mary have been invited to attend. Continuing a tradition of growing to meet the needs of the community, St. Mary has added 3,000 square feet of space to the existing site, as well as additional programs to enhance healthcare and support for the largely low-income and uninsured population served by the Community Ministries.

St. Mary Community Ministries is composed of the Mother Bachmann Maternity Center, the St. Mary Children’s Health Center, and the St. Mary Family Resource Center. Both the Mother Bachmann and Children’s Health Center will gain clinic space. With the expansion, the Family Resource Center will introduce a Family Learning Center for preschool programs. The small-group classes, which will focus on social skills and emotional development, are geared toward 4 and 5 year olds with little or no preschool experience. “The preschool classes help promote the importance of education to the parents and better prepare the children to succeed in Kindergarten,” says Terri Rivera, Vice President of Mission and Community Health at St. Mary. Morning and afternoon preschool sessions will begin in September 2008. Parenting skill classes and interactive activities, such as infant massage and toddler movement classes, are among other programs to be offered in the Family Learning Center.

The expanded Family Resource Center also will establish a new Family Wellness Center offering exercise, dance, music and other movement activities for youth and adults. The Wellness Center will be equipped with treadmills, free weights, bikes, and elliptical machines and offer classes such as yoga, Pilates, and aerobics lead by certified instructors. The Family Wellness Center will emphasize exercise, nutrition, and social skills to promote positive lifestyle changes and choices. Teamwork, conflict resolution, and positive self-esteem are integral components of each program.

The Health Promotion Center will provide dedicated clinic space to the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership (BCHIP) Adult Health Clinic. Previously, the BCHIP clinic shared space in the Mother Bachmann Maternity Center, and was limited in its hours of operation. With this expansion, the BCHIP Adult Health Clinic can provide health services Monday through Friday. Preventive care and sick visits, as well as disease management for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high-blood pressure, are provided by appointment to low-income, uninsured/underinsured residents of Bucks County. Nearly 1,200 residents received care in 2007, and that number is expected to increase in 2008 with the expansion of access to this service.

St. Mary Community Ministries began in 1991 with the opening of the Mother Bachmann Maternity Center in a storefront in the Bensalem Square Shopping Center. A needs-assessment study conducted in the early 1990s by the Sisters of St. Francis indicated that despite the relative affluence of the area, there were many residents in the Lower Bucks area without access to medical care. The Bachmann Center brings much needed maternity care to pregnant women regardless of their ability to pay. In 2007, 376 mothers received prenatal care and support services at the Mother Bachmann Maternity Center and delivered their babies at St. Mary Medical Center.

In 1993, the St. Mary Children’s Health Center opened in a second storefront to provide children from birth to 18 years of age with well-child and sick care, vaccinations, and hearing, vision, and other health screenings. In 2007, nearly 2,200 eligible children received primary and preventive healthcare at the Children’s Health Center, representing an increase of more than 34 percent over 2006. The expansion will provide additional exam space to meet this ever-increasing need.

St. Mary opened the Family Resource Center in 1998 in a third storefront to expand its continuum of care for a diverse population. With St. Mary as the lead partner, a coalition of social service agencies provides a variety of services for individuals and families. These self-empowering, self-improvement services include English as a second language, Vita Education Services, and GED courses, job preparedness and placement services, basic computer training, parenting classes, substance abuse and behavioral health assistance, nutritional counseling, and citizenship classes. In addition, St. Mary provides comprehensive case management and shelter in transitional-housing apartments for homeless women and children in need.

St. Mary Community Ministries is a reflection of the Medical Center’s mission to serve the poor and empower individuals to make sustainable changes in their lives. More than 4,000 people each year received maternity, medical or social services through St. Mary Community Ministries. In 2007, community benefit contributions from St. Mary Medical Center totaled $10,778,000, including $8,270,000 in financial assistance and subsidized care for those in need.

St. Mary Community Ministries in Bensalem received the American Hospital Association’s NOVA Award in 2003 in recognition of the work being done to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged families. St. Mary Community Ministries serves to make a positive difference in the health and lives of the vulnerable in our community.