Support presented for health center

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Officials, some residents, still concerned about who will come

WILDWOOD- Representatives from CompleteCare, which plans to open a million-dollar health center on New Jersey Avenue in November, defended the center to skeptical residents and officials Aug. 22.

“Shame on anybody to think we would introduce the wrong kind of people here,” Gil Waters, CEO of CompleteCare said at the Aug. 22 commissioners meeting. “We serve rich folks, we serve poor folks. The uninsured and the insured, we serve people from all walks of life.”

The plans for the center had been blasted by former commissioner Al Brannen and other residents. Brannen, as well as Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr., had both expressed concerns that the center will attract “lowlifes and dirtbags” onto the island.

“Everyone talks about ‘those people,’” Troiano said. “Wildwood is melting pot. No one cares about what color people are or what language they speak. We’re the biggest cross-section of Americana this side of Atlantic City. ‘Those people’ happen to be the people who are dumped on us.”

Waters said in the 40 years he has worked with health care facilities, he has never seen people migrate to an area for health care. He said that jobs, climate, and schools will attract people to an area, but health care is not a typical reason to move.

“I can assure you, this will be the first then,” Troiano said, apparently not convinced.

About 75 people, many of whom were CompleteCare employees and patients, filled the City Hall meeting room Tuesday.

Juanita Jones, who said she was a school teacher and had lived in Wildwood all her life, spoke in support of the new center.

“This is something that is needed,” she said. She mentioned that there were many students who wanted to play sports, but couldn’t afford to go see a doctor, or didn’t have the transportation to get to one, for the physicals.

“There are people welcoming this,” Jones said.

At the meeting, CompleteCare representatives distributed a list of 16 benefits that the new center will bring to Wildwood. It said the center would serve between 5,000 and 7,000 patients annually, create 25 full time jobs, and reinvest $1 million into the city every year.

It also mentioned that the new center would “spruce up” the current Wildwood Housing Authority building as well as that area of New Jersey Avenue.

Waters said that the center would pay rent to the housing authority, but is negotiating a payment to the city. Because CompleteCare is a non-profit organization, Waters said it is not required to pay taxes to the city, but is negotiating a payment in lieu of taxes.

“We want to pay our share to the community,” Waters said.

Besides these benefits, a Power Point about the facility’s benefits was also presented. It said the facility would offer “Disney-style” customer service and an exceptional medical facility.

Complete Care also has a network of 18 health care centers throughout Cape May, Gloucester and Camden counties, and provides primary medical, dental, and behavioral health care to about 50,000 patients annually. The network has received $1 million in grant money to open the facility in Wildwood.

“We have no desire to be a place of last resort,” Waters said.

Troiano said that the center will have to go before the planning and zoning board in the fall because it is a change of use for the Wildwood Housing Authority building. He said at that time, there would be a public hearing about the facility.

Christie Rotondo can be emailed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can comment on this story at 

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