NEWTON, NJ (Sussex County) — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Tuesday announced at Newton Medical Center that, by working closely with local leaders and the health care community, $750,000 in new federal investment is being clawed back from Washington to Jersey for the hospital’s Behavioral Health Department Renovations Project.
These investments will help ensure that North Jersey residents have access to critical behavioral health care services and our frontline health care workers have the resources they need.
This bipartisan investment, signed into law by the President last week, will help Newton Medical Center create a state-of-the-art emergency department behavioral health suite that includes more rooms — increasing access to care for patients, expanding clinical team capabilities, and helping them deliver the highest standard of behavioral health care to the community.
Newton Medical Center has seen an increasing need in the community for behavioral health services and New Jersey has seen a significant spike in youth mental health crises, including increased youth emergency room visits related to mental health and a rise in student suicides in school districts across the country. The pandemic exacerbated an existing mental health crisis, including a significant spike in drug use.
During the pandemic, the CDC reported a rise in mental health emergency room visits by 24% and 31% in children 5-11 years and 12-17 years old, respectively. According to current estimates — 1 in 5 people — including more than one million people total in New Jersey — have been diagnosed with a mental illness. And deaths from drug overdose have increased in New Jersey from 16.7 per 100,000 in 2015 to 32 per 100,000 in 2020.
“We simply can’t allow this youth mental health crisis to worsen. And that’s why we are here today — to ensure that the hospitals across North Jersey and our frontline health care workers have the resources they need with hospitalizations on the rise,” Gottheimer said. “Today, thankfully, we are clawing back necessary investment to ensure Sussex County has even higher-quality behavioral health services. Our health care workers always have our backs when we need them most; we must make sure we always have theirs, so they can focus on providing the best care possible to our community. This new federal investment will do just that.”
The Newton Medical Center Behavioral Health Department Renovations Project investment will be used to add a $1.83 million state-of-the-art emergency department behavioral health suite that includes five private rooms in a safe, secure area — with an adjacent overflow area to accommodate surges.
When the number of behavioral health patients exceeds the two dedicated rooms available, those patients overflow into other emergency department rooms, or are forced to wait in hallways.
The rooms will be designed to meet the increasing volume and lengths of stay in the emergency department. The clinical teams will have better visualization of each room through workstations with glass dividers for direct visibility, allowing for high quality patient care. This project will also allow staff to provide the most patient-centered care practices, all while ensuring a healthy work environment.
“The Congressman has been a champion of Newton Medical Center during his time in Washington and especially over the last two years,” said Atlantic Health Western Region Chief Medical Officer Dr. Geralda Xavier. “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Congressman has been a constant support of our teams, ensuring that our team members have the necessary resources and tools to combat this once in a lifetime pandemic. He’s always had advocacy for the emergency department behavioral health suite project, demonstrating his commitment to our team members, our patients, and to our communities that we serve.”
Gottheimer was joined in Newton by Atlantic Health Western Region Chief Medical Officer Dr. Geralda Xavier, and Newton Medical Center health care workers.