Mar 7, 2024 Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus Opens Specialty Unit Dedicated to Medical/Surgical Patients with Behavioral Health Issues

Lakewood, NJ –March 7, 2024— Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (MMCSC) announced the opening of a new Medical Behavioral Specialty Unit, an eight-bed medical surgical unit dedicated to the comprehensive care of patients with behavioral health needs.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on March 4, when hospital leadership, board of trustee members, and local dignitaries gathered to officially celebrate the opening.

The unit, located in a secured limited-access area of the hospital, is staffed with a dedicated team of nurses, clinical care technicians (CCTs), and mental health associates (MHAs) who are trained in both medical surgical and behavioral health care to care for hospitalized adults with active medical and psychiatric illnesses. Psychiatric resources also are available 24/7, whether physically or via TeleDoc.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States, with more than 1 in 5 adults living with a mental illness. MMCSC has created this unit to safely provide inpatient hospital care for patients with underlying behavioral health issues who need additional medical services due to a secondary diagnosis, according to MMCSC Chief Administrative Officer Philip Passes, D.O.

“These patients may have underlying medical diseases such as heart disease or diabetes or needs that are underserved due to their behavioral health conditions that require specialty surgery that often go untreated,” said Dr. Passes. “Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus has created a specialty nursing unit to meet all of their health care needs in a nurturing and safe environment. We are very excited about this opportunity to deliver exceptional care to those who need it the most in our community and throughout the RWJBarnabas Health system.”

A 2023 statistical report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes 1,112,000 adults over the age of 18 in New Jersey have a diagnosed mental health condition.

“This new unit truly embodies a multidisciplinary approach to whole patient care, involving collaboration from nursing, medical, and behavioral team members,” said Frank A. Ghinassi, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health Services at RWJBarnabas Health and president and CEO of Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. “This new unit is an outstanding example of collaboration among disciplines and allows us the ability to not only care for the medical needs of our patients but also address any mental health challenges they may be experiencing. Treating patients in this way leads to more positive outcomes and increased patient and family satisfaction,” he continued.

RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) Behavioral Health, together with Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC), is a leading provider of integrated mental health and substance abuse treatment services, serving over half a million individuals each year. With both hospital and community-based care programs, RWJBH and UBHW offer the broadest range of services in New Jersey, offering all levels of care for children and adults, including 24-hour crisis intervention, and national peer helplines, inpatient and outpatient programs, psychiatric emergency screenings, case management, early intervention, counseling, medication management, and integrated treatment plans. They are a leading provider of community-based programs, partnering with more than 300 schools and correctional facilities in NJ.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-300-0628.

Ribbon cutting ceremony

Photo Caption: Special guests gather to cut the ribbon dedicating a Medical/Behavioral unit at MMCSC, a first for RWJBarnabas Health, including from left Lakewood Mayor Raymond Coles; Mark Manigan, President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health, Nicole Powasnick, Chief Nursing Officer for Barnabas Health Behavioral Health; Dr. Phil Passes, Chief Administrative Officer, MMC/MMCSC; Mabel Laforgia, Vice President, Patient Care Services, MMCSC; Dr. Frank Ghinassi, Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health Services, RWJBarnabas Health and President and CEO of Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, and Eric Carney, President & Chief Executive Officer, MMC/MMCSC.

About Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus

Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (MMCSC) is a fully accredited acute-care hospital located in Lakewood. An affiliate of RWJBarnabas Health, Monmouth South is a sister hospital to Monmouth Medical Center, a teaching hospital located in Long Branch. MMCSC Emergency Services include a Geriatric Emergency Medicine Unit (GEM) as well as a Pediatric Emergency Department. MMCSC introduced the first of its kind James and Sharon Maida Geriatrics Institute to the region, which provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care for elders. MMCSC also offers convenient access to an array of outpatient services as well as the services of the Jacqueline M. Wilentz Comprehensive Breast Center. RWJBarnabas Health and MMCSC, in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey – the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center – brings a world class team of researchers and specialists to fight alongside you, providing close-to-home access to the latest treatment and clinical trials. For more information about Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, visit