Physician technology to assist with ultrasound procedures.
Physician technology to assist with ultrasound procedures.

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Brimming with potential

Table of Contents

MERCER COUNTY’S COMMUNITIES are a study in contrast. Trenton, the state’s capital, is a diverse community struggling with its identity and economic instability. Just a few miles away but at the other end of the spectrum is the Princeton area, a wealthy collection of communities that claim identity with the erudite borough of Princeton. Both areas have challenging opportunities for physicians, each with a distinct flavor.

Although they are located midway between New York and Philadelphia, within an hour of all the cultural and economic opportunities of those two great megalopolises, Mercer County residents find local culture and economic opportunity aplenty. Trenton offers a symphony, minor-league baseball, and the New Jersey State Museum with its planetarium and woolly mammoth— an Ice Age resident of the Garden State. The city’s Little Italy in the Chambersburg district often attracts out-of-state diners.

Ivy-covered Princeton, with its historic university, provides residents with a wide variety of educational and  entertainment opportunities, including the Tony Award-winning McCarter Theatre and Princeton University Art  Museum. Quality education, both public and private, gives the local chamber of commerce something else to boast about: high SAT scores.

Business is booming in Mercer County. Merrill Lynch is building a new corporate headquarters in Hopewell and  Shiseido Co. Ltd., a global manufacturer of skin-care products, is opening a facility in East Windsor. In addition, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Co. has its headquarters in Princeton.

Colonial and Revolutionary War history permeates the county, with a history lesson behind the name of nearly every township, borough, park, and street, and historic sites enough to visit for a month of Sundays.

Golf courses abound, as do natural areas. Mercer County has preserved 7,500 acres of open space and farmland, the result of an active preservation program funded since 1990 by a voter-approved open space preservation trust fund tax. This tax funds the preservation of recreational lands, a stream valley and greenways with public access,  environmentally sensitive lands, and wildlife habitats. Most of these areas lie north and east of the Trenton urban area, with the exception of a fishing warf on the Delaware River.

Mercer County also is home to state park facilities such as the D&R Canal, Washington Crossing Park, Princeton Battlefield, and the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area. The county’s many playgrounds, ball fields, and path systems fall under the purview of local municipalities.

A big-picture look at Mercer County reveals that even though it’s across the Delaware River from Pennsylvania and
80 miles southeast of the Pocono Mountains, it’s also only 32 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

Foresight in medicine

“In terms of lifestyle, it’s very pleasant,” says Michael L. Somerstein, MD.

Somerstein, a nephrologist, accepted the invitation of Helene Fuld Medical Center in Trenton to establish the first hemodialysis center in Mercer County in 1970. He came gladly, leaving behind a practice and the hemodialysis center at Philadelphia’s Hahnemann Hospital for the potential Trenton held.

“At that time, it was very exciting,” Somerstein says. “There was the need for services, and there was room for expansion for a practice because it was a new field.”

Besides, he says, with family in the area, it was a homecoming. Somerstein grew up in Trenton and left to attend college and medical school at the University of Cincinnati.

Somerstein, now age 60, a former president of Helene Fuld’s medical staff and current second vice chairman of the Board of Directors of the new Capital Health System, continues to see potential in Mercer County.

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Pamela M. Prescott

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