Care Plus Bergen – a nonprofit corporation formed by Care Plus NJ, a longtime provider of outpatient mental-health services in northern New Jersey, and Integrity House, a Newark-based provider of substance-abuse treatment – will take over day-to-day operations on the Paramus campus on Oct. 1.
For the first time, the hospital will be allowed by the county to participate in commercial managed-care plans, which will enable privately insured patients to seek substance-abuse treatment there, according to Joseph a. Masciandaro, CEO of Care Plus NJ. Rutgers New Jersey Medical School is to provide acute care for patients at the facility, including its 171–bed acute-care hospital and ambulatory clinics, under an agreement with Care Plus.
“A stronger, more innovative county-owned hospital is a victory for all of us,” County Executive James J. Tedesco told the board of the Bergen County Improvement Authority before it voted to approve the contract Thursday afternoon. Care Plus Bergen will lease the facility from the Improvement Authority.
The Health Professionals and Allied Employees union, which represents over 500 nurses and other health workers at the hospital, said the choice of Care Plus Bergen was a “relief.” The union has frequently raised concerns about patient and worker safety at the hospital, especially after reports of dozens of alleged assaults were reported by The Record last year.
“This rightfully returns the hospital to a not-for-profit status and should mean the restoration of resources to our patients,” said Jeff Peck, a full-time registered nurse at the facility and president of the union local.
Patients at Bergen Regional are among the most difficult to treat, mentally ill, often substance abusers suffering from overlapping health problems like diabetes and hypertension. They cycle in and out of the hospital and emergency department, the most expensive forms of care. And taxpayers cover more than 80 percent of the costs through various government programs.
The new vision for the hospital is to “integrate primary care, behavioral health care, substance abuse care and access to social supports,” said Masciandaro, Care Plus NJ’s CEO. His agency was one of dozen national demonstration projects, pioneering new methods of treating the comprehensive health needs of addicts and mental-health patients. Care Plus NJ provides primary care – for high blood pressure or diabetes, say – at the same time and place as counseling or substance-abuse treatment is given.
Overall, Masciandaro said, the hospital expects to take in approximately $212 million in annual revenue, of which 90 percent will go to the county. The county will return that for operating costs, and will handle all capital improvements.
Care Plus is expected to rename the hospital.