With demand for services rising and government subsidies declining, providing mental health and drug treatment services has become more difficult.
“Today, state grant funds cover less than 50 percent of the support necessary to provide timely and appropriate care,” Joseph Kadian, executive director of the Bayonne Community Mental Health Center (BCMHC) said. “In addition, payer reimbursement for services remains woefully inadequate.”
For the second year in a row, Bayonne Medical Center has donated to the Bayonne Community Mental Health Clinic to help defray some of the costs associated with these increasing demands.
Founded in 1972 by the Bayonne/Jersey City chapter to the National Organization of Jewish Women, the BCMHC has been a mainstay in Bayonne and Hudson County to provide assistance in helping deal with mental distress as well as alcohol and drug treatment services.
“We’re helping our partners in the community,” said Dr. Mark Spektor, chief executive officer of Bayonne Medical Center.
The BMC and BCMHC have become more closely aligned since 2008 when BMC, under the current owners, restored its psychiatric inpatient services, with a particular focus on senior citizens.
In 2008, BCMHC became a valuable community partner with BMC when the hospital went into partnership with Horizon Health to provide acute inpatient psychiatric services to Bayonne and surrounding communities. The agreement with Horizon Senior Behavioral Health Services would provide in-patient psychiatric services with a focus on geriatrics, or elderly people.
Kadian, who also serves on the hospital’s community board, said Bayonne has a significant senior population that faces problems with depression, psychosis and alcohol abuse, often in combination.
Increased demand; decreased funding
The center provides a range of services that include treatment for depression and family crisis intervention. As it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, demand for services has never been greater, said Kadian.
“For nearly 40 years, the Bayonne Community Mental Health Center has quietly and effectively gone about providing services for the people of Bayonne and neighboring communities whose capacity to function has been seriously disturbed or threatened by mental illness or substance abuse,” Kadian said. “Over the last several years, however, the Bayonne Community Mental Health Center has experienced a steady and dramatic increase in the demand for services.”
Since 2003, requests for services have increased by 60 percent and admissions into its programs have increased by 40 percent. At the same time, public funds have steadily decreased. In the 1980s, state funds accounted for about 80 percent of BCMHC’s operational costs.
The center has an annual operating budget of over $1.5 million that from local and state revenues as well as private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Last year, Daniel Kane, then CEO of BMC, donated $25,000 to BCMHC. This year, Dr. Spektor repeated the generosity.
Funding is a huge problem, especially with cutbacks on the state and federal levels for Community Development Block Grants and the changes in Medicaid reimbursement rates.
“This means we have to find other ways to support our programs,” Kadian said. “We try to use our talents and skills to provide services to local businesses. We have an employee assistance program and crisis counseling referrals for substance abuse. We have a contract with the City of Bayonne to provide services to uniform and non-uniform employees.”
While the center is primarily focused in Bayonne, it gets requests from all over Hudson County, and often tries to direct people to facilities near to where they live.
“But a lot of people hear about us by word of mouth,” Kadian said. “We do have a reputation for doing our very best as soon as we can.”
“We’re helping our partners in the community,” said Dr. Mark Spektor
Kadian said the mental health center actually started out in a small corner of Bayonne Medical Center, but soon after moved to its current locations on Broadway. The main building is located at 601 Broadway.
“Some people think we’re part of city government, but we’re not,” he said. “Our mission is to address people with mental distress and substance abuse related issues.”
The center offers three programs to the community: an alcohol and drug addiction program for about 120 adults; partial care for about 26 adults; and an outpatient program for more than 1,500 children and adults.
The center has a professional staff of about 24. This includes child and adult psychiatrists, a nurse practitioner, social workers, and counselors.
The center is fully accredited by JCAHO, holds three state licenses, and gets over 17,000 mental health and substance abuse visits per year from Bayonne adults, adolescents, and children.
Programs for victims, chronically ill
The outpatient program provides a full range of individual, group and family psychiatric services, with a special emphasis for helping victims of child sexual abuse and domestic violence. This aspect is funded by DYFS. This program provides counseling to both adults and children. The center also partners with the other organizations to provide help for depression that sometimes comes after child birth and treats family issues.
“We also provide services to victims of crime,” Kadian said. “And we have a large children’s program.”
The second major program is a partial daycare program for people 18 and over, who have a serious and persistent mental illness and who may have been hospitalized in the past. This program allows them to remain in the community while getting the support and therapy they need.
The third program is for addiction treatment with an outpatient service for substance abuse for adults and families affected by the abuse. This includes drugs, alcohol and prescription drug abuse.
The center is also involved with programs elsewhere in Hudson County, such as Project Home on Bergen Avenue in Jersey City. This is program for women with children and the center provides services to women who have an extensive history with substance abuse but are on their way back into the workforce. This project operates in conjunction with Women Rising and Lutheran Services Ministries.
The center also has a collaborative supportive housing program with the United Way of Hudson County, working with up to 26 clients who are homeless and in need of housing.