RELEASE: Gottheimer Announces Big Win for Newton Medical Center: $750,000 Clawed Back for Behavioral Health Department Renovations Project

Mar 22, 2022
Press

Federal Investment for State-of-the-Art Emergency Department Expansion

Provides Resources to Frontline Health Care Workers to Address Mental Health Crisis, Spike in Drug Use

Above: Gottheimer today at Newton Medical Center to announce a $750,000 federal investment for the hospital’s Behavioral Health Department Renovations Project.

ANDOVER, NJ — At Newton Medical Center, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced 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,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “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 today in Newton by Atlantic Health Western Region Chief Medical Officer Dr. Geralda Xavier,  and Newton Medical Center health care workers.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 

I’m here today at the Newton Medical Center in Sussex County to announce a great win for Northwestern New Jersey: working closely with local leaders and the health care community, we fought for and have officially clawed back $750,000 in new federal investment from Washington to Jersey for the hospital’s Behavioral Health Department Renovations Project.

This critical investment 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.

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. 

Unfortunately, as I’ve heard from so many doctors and care providers, 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. And we just don’t have enough hospital beds, doctors, and nurses to handle this new crisis. 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.

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.

And 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.

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.

Not to mention, deaths from drug overdose have increased in the state from 16.7 per 100,000 in 2015 to 32 per 100,000 in 2020.

These are heart wrenching numbers.

Although 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.

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.

Like most hospitals around the country, Newton Medical Center has seen an increasing need in the community for behavioral health services. In particular, the emergency department has had a growing number of cases requiring specialized treatment areas. Behavioral health cases have been growing in prevalence nationwide, even before the pandemic, and Newton Medical Center is no exception.

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. That’s exactly the reason why we are making this necessary investment in the hospital.

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.

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.

I am proud to have played a role in making this project possible, and 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 here.

By working closely with North Jersey’s local counties, towns, and municipalities — including right here in Newton — I’ve been fighting in Congress to claw more tax dollars back to Jersey for projects that help our communities. This federal investment is a major milestone in that fight.

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 were included in bipartisan legislation just signed into law last week — clawing back millions of dollars to communities across our district, including more than $1.3 million for projects right here in Sussex County. In addition to the Newton Medical Center project, this bipartisan legislation will invest in the Sussex Borough Water Utility Improvement Project, as well as the Sussex County Elderly, Veteran, and Employment Services Transportation Services project.

These three investments are big wins for the County 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.

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.

This legislation will help ensure that hospitals, doctors, nurses and others responding to health emergencies have the supplies they need when they need them, so that they can provide safe, effective care for patients and not be put in harm’s way themselves.

The bottom line: the pandemic has taught all of us, including our doctors, hospitals, and life sciences companies, that none of us can afford just to think in the short term. We must also make sure we are learning lessons from this pandemic and better preparing ourselves for the future. That’s what this new bipartisan legislation does. It gets us ready for future disasters by thinking ahead and putting clear monitoring systems in place, which will save lives.

One of my top priorities throughout the pandemic — and moving forward — has been working to ensure our frontline medical workers, hospitals, health care centers, and first responders in each county in the Fifth District have the resources and full support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.

This federal investment we’re announcing today will help them continue to care for patients, and get health care workers the support they need. I want to thank all our health care workers for the incredible work they’ve been doing over the past several months and years, especially during the pandemic.

By getting more federal dollars back here — to help invest in our firefighters, law enforcement, EMTs, higher-ed institutions like Sussex County Community College, and hospitals like Newton Medical Center — we have lifted significant costs off of our town and county budgets, and helped save a fortune for our property taxpayers. This is all about improving affordability for Jersey families.

I know that with incredible leaders like Dr. Xavier and the hardworking Newton Medical Center team fighting to help our communities stay healthy and safe, and by working together to claw back federal investment to help us here, our best days will always be ahead of us.

May God bless you and may God bless these United States of America.

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