Behavioral Health Services Expanded

To meet a growing need for mental health care, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, has expanded its Behavioral Health Services under new leadership. With the generous support of a $500,000 donation from the Far Hills Race Meeting Association, the hospital recently renovated its Behavioral Health Unit to add 12 beds, increasing the unit’s capacity to 28 beds. The Far Hills Race Meeting Behavioral Health Unit is now licensed by the New Jersey Department of Health to offer involuntary treatment for individuals who have severe mental illness and cannot seek care on their own and may be a danger to themselves or others.

The hospital also recently welcomed three new members to its Behavioral Health leadership team: Christine Belluardo, who has 30 years of experience in the behavioral health field, as assistant vice president of Behavioral Health Services; Philip Palmer as director of Behavioral Health Services and Emergency Department Crisis Center; and Kathleen Haughey-Eannone as director of the hospital’s Eating Disorders Program.

“About one in five adults experience mental illness each year and one in 25 experience serious mental illness,” said Tamer Wassef, MD, medical director of Behavioral Health Services at RWJUH Somerset. “We have seen a growing number of patients coming to our Emergency Department with mental illness over the past few years and an increased number requiring hospitalization. With our expanded bed capacity, we will be able to ensure that patients in acute stages of psychiatric illness get prompt evaluation, are stabilized and receive the intensive treatment they need.”

“As our community continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis, these services are needed more than ever,” said Tony Cava, president and chief executive officer, RWJUH Somerset. “Our new leadership team has extensive experience in the behavioral health field and will continue to ensure that we are providing the highest quality care to our community.”

RWJUH Somerset’s Behavioral Health Services provides treatment for a full range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and mood disorders, panic disorders, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and grief and loss. Its multi-disciplinary team comprises board-certified adult and adolescent psychiatrists, psychiatric advance practice nurses, psychiatric nurses, mental health associates, licensed clinical social workers, creative arts therapists and registered dietitians who have expertise in eating disorders.

In addition to inpatient care, the hospital’s Behavioral Health Services include a partial hospitalization program with daytime treatment Monday through Friday and intensive outpatient treatment, which typically involves a half-day program three days a week. The hospital’s Crisis Center, located in the Emergency Department, offers emergency care for patients in crisis situations, including those who are suicidal.

The hospital’s 14-bed Eating Disorders Unit cares for individuals age 14 and older and is one of only two inpatient eating disorders programs in the state. It also offers partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient care. The unit is currently undergoing a $9 million renovation, expanding the unit from 14 to 20 beds.

For more information on RWJUH Somerset’s Behavioral Health Services, contact 800-300-0628 or visit www.rwjbh.org/somerset.