Leading Health Care Providers Join Forces to Help Bergen Community at the Crossroads and Beyond

Bergen County mental health care provider Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“Care Plus NJ”) has teamed up with Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Integrity, Inc. to submit their proposal to takeover operations of Bergen Regional Medical Center.

The three non-profit organizations, led by Care Plus NJ, share a new vision for the management of the hospital, which is currently considered a “safety net” for those requiring mental health or substance abuse care.

Care Plus Bergen – the operating name for the team – proposes a new system of care focused on “integrated care models”, rather than the “divisions of treatment” which currently exist.

“We’re looking beyond the case-by-case treatment model that is employed today,” said Care Plus NJ President/CEO, Joseph Masciandaro. “Our goal is to create a new, coordinated model of care that works within the community to provide prevention, intervention, treatment and, most importantly, aftercare—all with the goals of promoting longstanding health and recovery, and reducing repeated hospitalizations.”

Masciandaro noted that under the current system, individuals are often released from the hospital without a clear “continuum” of care plan. Without easy access to ongoing care, patients often end up back at the emergency room, a process that often repeats many times over.

“Most people spend a very brief portion of their lives in the hospital—even if you are dealing with pervasive diseases such as mental illness and addiction. It’s what happens when these individuals leave the hospital that will define their future,” Masciandaro stated.

Even the renaming of the hospital that the group proposed – Crossroads Medical Center – is a nod to that same notion. “The individuals who come for care are at a crossroads in their life, and the care that they receive will determine their path to sustainable health,” he said.

Masciandaro said that the proposed model is one that they expect will be a successful formula for integrated treatment within the hospital setting. He shared statistics that demonstrated the need for an integrated care system: “60% of people treated for a mental health condition also have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. These same individuals also suffer from high rates of physical diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. To successfully treat such complex and inter-related conditions requires more than what a short-term hospital stay can provide.”

To ensure an inclusive transition to an improved system of care, the group is committed to continuing the mission of “safety net” provider, while assuming the role of providing a “modern integrated health care delivery system that includes health promotion and prevention activities, acute care, specialized service lines and organized transitions to aftercare.”

Care Plus NJ has been a community provider of outpatient mental health care since 1978, serving both adults and children throughout northern New Jersey. They will serve to manage the acute care services of the medical center. The organization has an extensive reach into the community, already providing many of the aftercare and supportive services that patients would need once they leave the hospital.

A forerunner in proving out innovative care models, Care Plus NJ was one of the first in the country to receive a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to deliver integrated behavioral and physical health care to their constituents since 2010, receiving public acclaim and serving as a model for similar facilities throughout the country.

Care Plus NJ is accredited by the Joint Commission and was the first accredited Behavioral Health Home in New Jersey.

Rutgers New Jersey Medical School will oversee the Ambulatory Care Clinic operations and provide clinical and physician leadership. Substance abuse services will be managed by Integrity, Inc., including inpatient detox, residential care, and outpatient services. The group has collectively treated hundreds of thousands of individuals in the greater New Jersey area, bringing a wealth of experience that is unparalleled in the healthcare industry.

“Managing people in a community setting is the hard part. We are putting the right teams together with the people who need them, right when they need them. We look forward to that day when we can transform what is currently discontinuous treatment into the recovery-focused, cohesive system of care that so many people in the greater Bergen County area need,” Masciandaro said.

The contract for the current for-profit operators of Bergen Regional Medical Center ends in March of 2017. Care Plus Bergen is one of several groups that have submitted proposals to take over management of the beleaguered hospital. A decision is expected in early 2017.