• Gabriel Donio

Governor Phil Murphy visits SJFMC


Governor Phil Murphy (third from left) toured Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers Hammonton office on April 30.  SJFMC President and CEO Linda Flake (third from right) toured the governor through the facility.  Also pictured: SJFMC Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gregory Collins, SJFMC CFO Ronald Kaplan, SJFMC Assistant Vice President, Clinical Services, Destiny Wood and SJFMC COO Esther Carpenter. (THG/MarySusan Hoffman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Governor Phil Murphy (D) visited Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers (SJFMC) facility on the afternoon of April 30 and observed several people receiving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations inside the building at the Augusta Professional Center on the White Horse Pike (Route 30). SJFMC was the governor’s only scheduled stop in Hammonton, according to his official calendar. Murphy followed the local visit with a trip to Atlantic City to receive his own second vaccine shot, according to his staff.


According to SJFMC, the health centers have administered more than 18,300 COVID-19 vaccination shots.


Murphy greeted and chatted with SJFMC CEO Linda Flake when he arrived. He recalled that he met with Flake last year.


“The world’s changed since then,” he said.


Murphy, Flake and SJFMC officials took photos outside the building, under a banner that encouraged people to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. SJFMC currently is administering the COVID-19 Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.


After having his temperature taken at the door along with everyone else who entered the building, Murphy greeted people who were receiving the vaccinations at SJFMC that afternoon. He asked them each which vaccine they were receiving and how they were doing after they received the shot.


“How’d it feel, sir? Which arm?” Murphy asked one man.


He spoke with another woman who had just received her vaccine.


“And how are you doing? Everything going smooth?” Murphy asked.


“I’m great,” she said.


Murphy commented on the process in the room where people were receiving vaccines.


“It’s very smooth,” the governor said.


Both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking patients were present during the governor’s visit. A younger daughter and her mother, who spoke Spanish, were both there to receive the shot, they said.


A staff member of SJFMC, speaking Spanish, introduced the mother to the governor.


Councilman Thomas Gribbin and Hammonton Police Chief Kevin Friel were also present at the event and met with the governor.


Governor Phil Murphy (left) and  SJFMC President and CEO Linda Flake (right) with Ximena Pesantez. Pesantez received her COVID-19 vaccination shot at SJFMC on April 30. (THG/MarySusan Hoffman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

Following the visit, Murphy took questions from the media in front of SJFMC before leaving for his next stop at the Atlantic County COVID-19 Vaccination Megasite at the Atlantic City Convention Center, which is administered by AtlantiCare.


“It’s a big deal. This is one of New Jersey’s great communities. The South Jersey Medical Center community has always been there and done a great job. And just seeing some folks getting vaccinated, in this case with their second shots, I’m headed across the county to get my second shot right after this. It’s a big day. A big deal,” Murphy said.


The governor was asked how New Jersey was progressing.


“It’s progressing quite well … We need to take more proactive steps to get into all corners of the state to make sure we get our goal of 4.7 million New Jersey adults vaccinated by the end of June. Very confident we’ll get there, but we’ll only get there if we push out proactively, and that’s what we’re going to begin to do a lot more of,” Murphy said.


Murphy was asked about the state’s reopening plan.


“We’re going to lay out the next few weeks. We’re going to take some pretty aggressive steps. As long as the COVID numbers keep going down in the right direction, and they are, thank God, and as long as the vaccinations continue to be supplied by the feds and taken up by our residents, we’re going to be able to open this up and have a great Jersey summer,” Murphy said.