CarePlus’ Joe Masciandaro Receives NJBIZ ICON Award

Prestigious honor recognizes business leaders over the age of 60 who have made significant contributions to New Jersey’s business community

Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus”), a pioneer in integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children, announces Joe Masciandaro, President & CEO, has been awarded an ICON Award from NJBIZ in recognition of his success in creating and leading the most comprehensive community mental healthcare system in northern New Jersey and making significant contributions to the state’s business community. Masciandaro accepted the award at a virtual event held on August 18, 2020.

The NJBIZ ICON Awards recognize New Jersey business leaders over the age of 60 for their notable success and demonstration of strong leadership both within their chosen field and New Jersey’s business community. Masciandaro has served as President & CEO of CarePlus since 1978, pioneering an innovative care model for integrated primary and behavioral health care for adults and children. Emphasizing the four pillars of behavioral healthcare: primary medical care, mental health care, substance abuse treatment and access to social support services, CarePlus provides integrated treatment options and over 72 programs designed to address each pillar through advocacy, community education and a complete continuum of care.

Under Masciandaro’s direction, CarePlus was one of only seven NJ agencies selected as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) when the federal demonstration launched in the state in 2017. Through the CCBHC demonstration, CarePlus is expanding access to mental health care and addiction treatment to thousands of northern NJ residents. Locally and nationally through his membership in the National Council for Behavioral Health, Masciandaro has been a fierce advocate for continued funding and expansion of the CCHBC model nationwide. He has tirelessly lobbied for increased access to care for decades and has been outspoken about the benefits and successes of the CCBHC model, engaging and educating legislators and the public on this issue.

Masciandaro’s steadfast leadership has been critical in navigating the impacts to behavioral health and social support services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As a CCBHC, CarePlus was well positioned to quickly transitions to telehealth and remote services to maintain access to care while also adhering to social distancing guidelines. Under Masciandaro’s leadership, CarePlus was awarded a federal grant through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability (CARES) Act to provide a comprehensive community response to combat COVID-19. Masciandaro was also involved in the inception of innovative programs and services to address community mental health needs, including the launch of CarePlus’ HERO Warmline, a free and confidential call line to connect first responders and frontline professionals to mental health services, as well as a partnership to provide on-site clinical support in supermarkets for grocery store workers and the launch of specialized grief counseling via telehealth. Additionally CarePlus also received a grant from the Federal Communications Commission for its COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which has enable CarePlus to expand access to telecommunications services, devices, and information services necessary to provide critical connections to care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to underserved and vulnerable populations.

A further testament to CarePlus’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Masciandaro was called upon by Governor Murphy to advise on the Healthcare Subcommittee of New Jersey’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council where he represented community behavioral health providers and served as an advisor to state leadership on economic matters impacted by COVID-19.

“Joe remains true to his goal of ensuring that treatment and services are available to not only the most seriously ill, but also to adults and children in crisis – maintaining the organization’s roots as a community provider,” said Jeremy Piccini, Esq., Chair of the Care Plus NJ Board of Trustees. “Joe’s calm nature, genuine compassion and accessibility to both staff and clients as well as his deep roots in the mental health community set him apart as an exemplary leader, a political force and a tireless mental health advocate. He truly is an icon not just to his employees and colleagues but to those coping with mental illness and substance use disorders that he fights for every day.”

Masciandaro has also championed countless initiatives ensuring those with mental illness and substance use disorders receive the treatment and services they need. His dedication and extensive experience in the field effectively positioned CarePlus to craft the winning bid to take over management of New Jersey’s largest public hospital, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center (BNBMC), in October 2017 and was able to enhance the scope of services and continuum of care, increasing the effectiveness of discharge to address recidivism – especially in the ER.

He is involved in the mental health field on community, state and national levels, locally through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA) and the Paramus Rotary, and nationally with membership in Mental Health Corporations of America and the National Council for Behavioral Health, which recognized him with their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.