RELEASE: Gottheimer Announces Big Win for New Bridge Medical Center: $2 Million Clawed Back for Behavioral Health Emergency Department Expansion Project

Federal Bipartisan Investment to Expand Care to Address Mental Health Crisis, Increased Drug Use, Spike in Youth Mental Health Crisis

 

Above: Gottheimer announcing new federal investment clawed back for New Bridge Medical Center. 

 PARAMUS, NJ — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer announced that, by working closely with local leaders and the health care community, $2 million in new federal investment is being clawed back from Washington to Jersey for New Bridge Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Emergency Department Expansion Project. 

Gottheimer submitted this project for consideration earlier this Congress. This critical bipartisan investment, which has now been signed into law, will help New Bridge Medical Center expand their emergency department, including more than doubling the number of beds, improving the environment for younger patients, and increasing dedicated space to address mental health and substance abuse for North Jersey families. 

New Bridge 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. 

“The pandemic resulted in increased anxiety, depression, behavioral challenges, and substance use — exacerbating an existing mental health crisis. Unfortunately, as I’ve heard from so many doctors and care providers, including here at New Bridge, we have 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,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Today, thankfully, with the resources we are clawing back from Washington, Bergen County’s safety net facility — New Bridge — will be able to treat members of our community with an even higher-quality behavioral health services. Our frontline health care workers always have our backs when we need them most – and we should all be so grateful. We must make sure we always have theirs, so that they can focus on providing the best care possible to our community. This new federal investment will help do just that.” 

“As the largest hospital in New Jersey and a safety net facility, this funding is essential and will help expand and enhance vital emergency mental health services to our community, including a new pediatric emergency room,” said Deborah Visconi, President and CEO of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center. “The pandemic increased the need for mental health services, especially for our children who were heavily impacted. This grant will expand our services to care for them and those most vulnerable who need us the most. We thank Congressman Josh Gottheimer for his ongoing support.” 

The federal investment clawed back for New Bridge Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Emergency Department Expansion Project will: 

  • Expand New Bridge’s Emergency Department from 19 beds to 49 total beds. 
  • Ensure that 30 of those beds are dedicated to addressing mental health and substance abuse — with a focus on pediatric care. 
  • Include a cutting-edge living room concept to improve the emergency department environment for younger patients. 
  • Redesign nurse stations, the medication safety zone, consulting room, and support spaces. 
  • Allow for 50 new clinical team jobs. 

In addition to addressing the mental health crisis, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center also plays a vital role in supporting North Jersey’s seniors and veterans by serving as a Veterans Community Care Provider, serving the health care and mental health needs of veterans. Additionally, the Long Term Care Division at Bergen New Bridge is the largest licensed nursing home in the state of New Jersey. 

Gottheimer was joined today by New Bridge Medical Center President & CEO Deborah Visconi, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, Bergen County Commissioners Tom Sullivan and Mary Amoroso, and New Bridge Medical Center health care workers. 

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Below: Congressman Gottheimer at New Bridge Medical Center with local electeds, hospital officials, doctors, and nurses.

 








Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:  
  
We’re joining together here today — at New Bridge Medical Center here in Paramus — to announce a great win for the families of Northern New Jersey: Working closely with local leaders and the health care community, we fought for, and have officially clawed back from Washington to Bergen County, $2 million dollars in new federal investment for the hospital’s Behavioral Health Emergency Department Expansion Project. 
  
This critical investment will help New Bridge Medical Center expand their emergency department, including more than doubling the number of beds, improving the environment for younger patients, and increasing dedicated space to address mental health and substance abuse for New Bridge’s patients. 
  
This means the hospital will be able to increase access to care for patients, expand the clinical team’s capabilities, and help New Bridge deliver the highest standard of behavioral health care to our community. 
  
We know that our Northern Jersey communities have faced very tough times from COVID-19, causing so many of our friends and neighbors to struggle. Unfortunately, as I’m sure many of you have read, the pandemic exacerbated an existing behavioral and mental health crisis, including a significant spike in drug use. Yes — our country and state are in the midst of an additional pandemic — one that isn’t solved with a vaccine. Although, knock on wood, we’re coming out on the other side of COVID-19, the pandemic resulted in increased anxiety, depression, behavioral challenges, and substance use — exacerbating an existing mental health crisis. 
  
Unfortunately, as I’ve heard from so many doctors and care providers, including here at New Bridge, we have 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.   
  
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. 
  
And, according to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of American children ages 3 to 17 diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29 percent, and the number of kids diagnosed with depression in the same age group increased by 27 percent. 
  
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. Deaths from drug overdose have increased in the state from 16.7 per 100,000 in 2015 to 32 per 100,000 in 2020. 
  
Suicides among Americans 10 to 24 increased 47 percent nationally – including 39 percent here in New Jersey. New Jersey’s Children’s System of Care received a record-high 14,698 calls this February, the highest volume since its inception. 
  
These are heart wrenching numbers.  
  
We need to work to ensure we have enough hospital beds, doctors, and nurses to handle this new crisis. We simply can’t allow this youth mental health crisis to worsen. We can’t have emergency rooms and hospitals turning away young people looking for help, as they’ve had to far too often during the pandemic because there simply aren’t enough beds and doctors to handle mental health issues.  
  
And that’s why we are here today — with cases on the rise, we need to ensure that the hospitals like New Bridge across North Jersey, and our frontline health care workers, have the resources they need to battle the surging mental health crisis. 
  
Today, thankfully, with the resources we are clawing back from Washington, Bergen County’s safety net facility — New Bridge — will be able to treat members of our community with an even higher-quality behavioral health services. Our frontline health care workers always have our backs when we need them most – and we should all be so grateful.  We must make sure we always have theirs, so that they can focus on providing the best care possible to our community. This new federal investment will help do just that. 
  
These new resources will help New Bridge’s Emergency Department expand from 19 beds to 49 total beds — with 30 beds dedicated to addressing mental health and substance abuse — with a special focus on pediatric care. 
  
The Behavioral Health Emergency Department Expansion Project will include updated stations for the clinical team, and a new cutting-edge living room concept, to improve the emergency department environment for younger patients and make it more friendly. It can be tough and scary for a young patient to be in the emergency room. 
  
The expansion will include a redesign of nurse stations, the medication safety zone, consulting room, and support spaces, as well as new staff, bringing 50 high-level, new clinical team jobs here to North Jersey — not to mention all the construction jobs. 
  
And, as you can see right here by us today, construction has already begun to help get the Behavioral Health Emergency Department Expansion Project moving forward.  
Overall, I am proud to have worked with our County Executive and Commissioners to help make this project possible. I will continue to work with local leaders, listen to health care workers, and fight to claw our federal tax dollars back to North Jersey to help us right here. 
  
I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight that all ten Fifth District Community Project Funding proposals I submitted for consideration earlier this Congress, like this one, were included in bipartisan legislation now signed into law — clawing back a total of more than $8.5 million dollars to communities across our District.  
  
In addition to the New Bridge Medical Center project, this bipartisan legislation will invest in Bergen County's Hackensack Transit Connector Project, a new state-of-the-art CT scanner for Hackensack University Medical Center, expanding behavioral health care at Newton Medical Center, Water Treatment Facilities construction for Ridgewood Water, improvements for water infrastructure here in Paramus and in Saddle River, improvements to help stop Sussex Borough Water Utility leaks and protect from contaminants, and for the Sussex County Elderly, Veteran, and Employment Services Transportation Services project. 
  
These investments are big wins for all of North Jersey and will help support our senior citizens, disabled residents, and veterans; improve our water infrastructure, ensure we have high quality, accessible health care facilities; and lower the property tax burden on our families. 
  
Since I was elected, I’ve made it a priority to fight to claw back these dollars for North Jersey families. I’ve been working for years with our mayors, councils, counties, first responders, colleges, nonprofits, and religious institutions to help claw more of our federal tax dollars back from Washington to New Jersey. As of last year, we are now up 112 percent in what we’ve clawed back from Washington and the Moocher States since I took office. 
  
On top of that, overall, we brought back more than $2 billion dollars in relief to Bergen County, the county government, and every single Bergen County town and borough during the pandemic, and more than $3 billion dollars to the entire Fifth District to tackle COVID — to help with first responders, vaccines, health care facilities, for PPP relief for small businesses, and other critical relief.  
  
Here at New Bridge, the bipartisan CARES Act allowed us — at the height of the pandemic, when we were the hardest hit — to convert the gym into a 30-bed facility and to build a 100-bed medical tent, coordinated by the Army Corps of Engineers to create overflow room, to treat patients, and help deliver vaccines. 
  
Every town in Bergen received COVID relief — totaling more than $53 million for Fifth District towns. The two Passaic County towns in the Fifth District totaled $3.78 million in COVID relief. Sussex County towns in the Fifth received $9.26 million, and Warren County towns in the Fifth received $6.51 million. 
  
And to make sure we’re supporting our hospitals and health care workers, in January, I introduced new bipartisan legislation — the Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act — to strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile and ensure the U.S. is better prepared for future crises and pandemics. This legislation will combat equipment shortages and provide near real-time tracking of medical and health supply inventories in New Jersey and nationwide — for supplies that frontline workers desperately need. 
  
The bottom line: the pandemic has taught all of us, including our doctors and hospitals, that none of us can afford just to think in the short term. We must better prepare ourselves for the future.  
  
One of my top priorities throughout the pandemic — and moving forward — has been to ensure our health care systems and medical workers throughout the Fifth District have the resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively, to deliver the highest standard of care.   
  
This federal investment we’re announcing today will help New Bridge do just that. 
By getting more federal dollars back here — to help invest in our first responders, to improve water infrastructure, and to help hospitals like New Bridge — we are lifting significant costs off of our county and town budgets — helping save a fortune for our property taxpayers and making life more affordable. 
  
I know that with incredible leaders like Deb Visconi, the Commissioners, and the hardworking New Bridge Medical Center team fighting to help our communities stay healthy and safe, in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us. 
  
May God bless you and may God bless these United States of America. 
  
                                                                                                                                                                  ###