Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY — AtlantiCare may build a $38 million HealthPark next to its Atlantic City campus, with the help of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

Tentative plans include a maternal and child health clinic and a dialysis unit on land owned by the state agency.

The city’s infant mortality rates are some of the highest in the state, said CRDA Board Chairman Robert Mulcahy III.

AtlantiCare spokeswoman Jennifer Tornetta said the health care organization applied to CRDA earlier this year for a grant to assist in building a new facility on Ohio Avenue.

She said AtlantiCare plans to expand services to the community, especially those that would address disparities in health care.

But the plans are preliminary, she said.

“We will share details at a future meeting,” Tornetta said.

The state currently oversees the city’s finances. A state report detailing what the resort has to do to regain control stated that infant mortality and obesity are among the first things the city should focus on.

“That was a requirement we made,” Mulcahy said of including prenatal and postnatal care in the expansion. “We are aware of the mortality issue.”

The agenda for Tuesday’s CRDA meeting had included a vote on preliminary project eligibility for the HealthPark, but the item was dropped from the agenda.

Mulcahy said there were too many details yet to work out between the CRDA and AtlantiCare — including how much of the $38 million cost would be shouldered by CRDA — but the issue will come up in a future meeting.

Councilman Kaleem Shabazz said he attended the meeting specifically to express support for the project. He said he also understood AtlantiCare would house resident doctors in the facility.

Though the overall infant mortality rate in New Jersey is lower than the national average, the disparity between white and black infant deaths is significant. Infant mortality for black babies, at 9.7 per 1,000 live births, is more than three times the rate among white babies, state data show.

In some areas of the state, like Atlantic City, that rate is even higher at about 20 black infant deaths per 1,000 live births during the most recent five-year period.

“Atlantic City residents are facing severe public health challenges,” according to the report authored by Special Council Jim Johnson. “The State, the County and key stakeholders must combine forces to understand the depth of the problems, identify solutions and implement programs that will address the issues.”

Contact: 609-272-7219 mpost@pressofac.com Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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