New project will expand much-needed access to behavioral health care for adolescents struggling with the impact of this devastating pandemic
(June 30, 2021) [Montgomery] – Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-NJ) today announced $5 million in funding from the State of New Jersey to support Hackensack Meridian Carrier Clinic’s pediatric behavioral health expansion project, which will improve inpatient behavioral health care for children
aged six and up across the state. Carrier Clinic, located in Montgomery, is the largest not-for-profit
behavioral health facility in the state.
“This funding is vital to support children in our region grappling with more than a year of pandemic-related trauma,” said Assemblyman Roy Freiman. “New Jersey’s pediatric behavioral health system is overburdened, and this project will greatly expand access to much-needed behavioral health care for young people who have been significantly impacted by this devastating virus.”
The funding will support Carrier Clinic’s planned $20 million, 40,000 square-foot expansion, which will include up to 40 inpatient rooms for children, adolescents, and adults, expanding Carrier’s capacity to care for pediatric patients as young as 6 years old. The project features include:
● A state-of-the-art Children’s Pavilion to increase access to treatment for New Jersey youth.
● Academic Teaching Center and Medical Staff Suite to expand the capacity to teach physicians
and other mental health professionals.
● Research and treatment space for Genomic Medicine and other forms of new and innovative
● Integrated medicine and therapeutic support services such as music, art, and equine therapy
● Development of a Family Resource and Support Center.
“There is no way we can deliver high-quality care for our patients without writing a new narrative for behavioral health care, especially for young people,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “The self-reported mental health in our nation is at the lowest point in 20 years, and we are witnessing a pandemic within a pandemic. At Hackensack Meridian Health we are committed to improving access to behavioral healthcare to ensure mental health and addiction services are not only fully integrated into healthcare, but are also affordable, accessible, and convenient.’’
“We are grateful for Assemblyman Freiman’s support for this critical project that will further transform adolescent and pediatric mental health in our region,” said Patricia Toole, chief hospital executive and president, Carrier Clinic. “Each year, Carrier Clinic turns away 200 to 300 pediatric patients that need inpatient care because we do not have enough inpatient beds. Now, due to the pressures that the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftereffects have placed on adolescents, children across the state can wait up to a week or more in a hospital Emergency Department for inpatient pediatric psychiatric care. This funding will help us expand capacity to help children and their families when they need Carrier Clinic the most.”
Even before the pandemic, one in five adolescents screened positive for depression, and suicide was the second-leading cause of death among teenagers nationwide. Children regularly wait five days or more in an acute care hospital emergency room for placement into one of the state’s limited private pediatric behavioral health hospitals. After the pandemic aftereffects subside, adolescents will continue to face the unprecedented pressures of 24/7 social media, cyberbullying, and other drivers of adolescent anxiety and depression — which is why access to quality inpatient pediatric behavioral health treatment remains a necessity.ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH
Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit healthcare organization that is the largest, most
comprehensive, and truly integrated healthcare network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of
medical services, innovative research, and life-enhancing care.
Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean county, which includes three
academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore
University Medical Center in Neptune, and JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children’s hospitals –
Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune;
nine community hospitals – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in
Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley
Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in
Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in
Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals – JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.
Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include
ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living
communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers,
rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health
has more than 36,000 team members, and over 7,000 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health
care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.
The network’s notable distinctions include having four hospitals among the top in New Jersey by U.S.
News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing
excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and being named to Becker’s Healthcare’s
“150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019” list.
The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine opened in 2018 – the first private medical school in New
Jersey in more than 50 years – and welcomed its third class of students in 2020 to its On3 campus in
Nutley and Clifton. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to
find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most
individualized cancer care when and where they need it.
Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of
leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving
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