The big news in NJ is this today. From The Star Ledger.
LEBANON TOWNSHIP — After months of worry for patients and their families, a state budget compromise was reached today that will keep Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in Lebanon Township open for at least another year.
The 310-bed Hunterdon County facility specializes in treating geriatric patients.
State Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) called the compomise the best possible outcome for Hagedorn’s patients and a testament to the “excellent level of services provided at the hospital.”
“I’m very happy and, on behalf of the patients, family and staff, appreciative to the governor … for letting this institution, which is probably the best psychiatric institution in the state, stay open,” Codey said. “Hopefully forever.”
Codey, a former governor and longtime advocate for mental health reform, co-sponsored the bill to preserve Hagedorn with state Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Warren).
“Look, I’m not a fan of big government, but I think there are some things government needs to do, and one of those is take care of the most vulnerable members of our society, and geriatric psychiatric patients are certainly among the most vulnerable,” Doherty said. (Emphasis mine).
“The governor deserves a great deal of credit for his willingness to re-evaluate the evidence in order to come up with the right decision,” said Phil Lubiz, director of advocacy for the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The agreement also calls for creating a task force to look into long-term needs for in-patient psychiatric beds before closing a state hospital. (Emphasis, mine).
When Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital in Monmouth County was shuttered several years ago after three years of planning, overcrowding, injuries and even death were attributed to moving patients to Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Camden County.
“That’s the reason the task force is important — to make sure the same problems don’t happen again,” Doherty said.
“The state was just moving too quickly, and I commend the Christie administration on reconsidering their decision,” he added.
Story continues here.
(Photo courtesy of the Star Ledger)