Hackensack Meridian Health, Carrier Clinic complete merger
Hackensack Meridian Health and Carrier Clinic completed their merger that will bring new addiction treatment centers to New Jersey as well as the first urgent-care centers in the state to offer on-site behavioral health services, the organizations announced Thursday.
The merger agreement also includes a $25 million investment in Carrier's Belle Mead campus. The organizations pledge to better integrate addiction and mental health treatment, boost behavioral research, bolster their psychiatry residency programs and add a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship.
The merger of the 16-hospital system and the behavioral health provider was approved by New Jersey's attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission.
"We must truly integrate behavioral health into healthcare and expand treatment options as our state battles a heroin epidemic that has claimed too many lives and devastated so many families," Robert Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said in prepared remarks.
Although demand for mental health services is stronger than ever, treatment is often inaccessible. The opioid crisis has made the systemic underinvestment in behavioral healthcare and addiction treatment even more apparent.
Health systems like Hackensack are treating more behavioral health patients in their emergency room, even though they are often ill-equipped. The opioid epidemic claimed an estimated 3,000 lives in New Jersey in 2018, up 36% from 2,200 in 2016.
The merger "would deliver a team-based care approach to behavioral health patients who too often received fragmented care,'' Thomas Amato, chairman of the Carrier Clinic board of trustees, said in a statement.
Belle Mead, N.J.-based Carrier Clinic offers short-term, acute-care hospitalization for psychiatric illness and substance abuse. Its 1,000 employees work throughout its 281-bed hospital; the Blake Recovery Center, a licensed 40-bed inpatient and outpatient detox and recovery facility; East Mountain Youth Lodge, which can house up to 91 adolescents; and East Mountain School, a fully accredited school for 120 middle- and high-school students affected by behavioral and psychiatric disorders.
Edison, N.J.-based Hackensack includes a network of 450 patient care locations and physician offices in eight counties, 33,000 employees and 6,500 physicians. It has been looking to train more doctors to mitigate the ongoing psychiatrist shortage, especially for children and adolescents.
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