Hackensack Meridian Health announced Dec. 7 it would invest millions at one of its facilities to expand Behavioral Health and Long Term Acute Care beds—needs identified in its latest community health needs assessment.
Perth Amboy’s Raritan Bay Medical Center, which has served the community for more than 100 years, will receive $35 million for the upgrades.
“Our investment will strengthen patient access to critical community services and meet their future health care needs,” HMH Chief Executive Officer Robert Garrett said in a statement.
LTACH beds are expected to open in the first quarter of the new year, with 81 Behavioral Health beds – subject to approval from the New Jersey Department of Health – coming in mid-2022, according to HMH.
Raritan Bay will be a discharge option for patients who would typically exceed length of stay at HMH, with the new LTACH additions, and become a specialty ventilator hospital for the network—a service that is not yet currently offered by HMH.
Meanwhile, Behavioral health will become an inpatient, specialty center with geriatric care and Dual Diagnosis (psychiatry/addiction) services. Over a five-year phased plan, HMH said, specialty care programs will be added to the department.
The efforts are part of a plan to “Reimagine Raritan Bay Medical Center,” which carries the thread of expanding care throughout its features. Aside from expanding the number of LTACH and Behavioral Health beds, the undertaking also includes maintaining surgical, ICU and OB/GYN beds and a full-service emergency department and efforts to add more physicians to the staff.
In addition to the permanent jobs the additional services will create at Raritan Bay, in the short-term the projects will add union construction jobs, as well.
“We appreciate the economic impact this planned expansion will have in Perth Amboy, creating dozens of job opportunities in the hospital and throughout the construction phases of the project,” Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, state Sen. Joespeh Vitale and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, said in a statement. “As an anchor institution in the City of Perth Amboy, we are glad the Medical Center is consistently being re-imagined to accurately address the needs of the Perth Amboy community. We have no doubt this investment will create a center for excellence in Behavioral Health and look forward to the many positive outcomes this investment will yield.” All lawmakers are Democrats from the 19th District, which includes Perth Amboy.
With ongoing demand exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, HMH Behavioral Health Care Transformation Services President Donald Parker described the Raritan Bay expansion as both vital and timely: “As the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us, readily available psychiatric services are essential to the overall health and well-being of the citizens of New Jersey.”
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