Trinitas Hospitals's Model Program For The Mentally Ill/Developmentally Disabled Celebrates First Anniversary

Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, New Jersey is celebrating the first anniversary of New JerseyÂ?s first and only in-patient unit for the dually diagnosed mentally ill and developmentally disabled patient. The 10-bed secure unit,prevents long-term institutionalization by allowing patients to remain in the community either with family members or in a group home.

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Elizabeth, NJ (PRWEB) January 30, 2004

Trinitas Hospital is celebrating the first anniversary of New Jersey’s first and only in-patient unit for the dually diagnosed mentally ill and developmentally disabled patient. The 10-bed secure unit, located at the New Point Campus, prevents long-term institutionalization by allowing patients to remain in the community either with family members or in a group home.

“In the past, patients who were mentally ill and developmentally disabled were often treated in emergency rooms, acute care psychiatric units or state hospitals and developmental centers,” says Pat Carey, Program Director, in the Department of Behavioral Health and Psychiatry at Trinitas. “This unique unit enables specially-trained staff members to care for these patients in a setting that is geared to the patients every need. So far, we have had a lot of success with not only stabilizing these patients while they are here, but keeping them stable after they return home.”

The inpatient unit offers a high staff-to-patient ratio, a specially trained medical team comprised of behavioral staff specialists and a psychiatrist, Dr. Purabi Bharatiya, nursing and social work staff with expertise in treating this patient population. The unit is designed to stabilize each patient’s acute psychiatric symptoms and address behavioral issues and functional limitations. Patient discharges and follow-up treatment are facilitated by Trinitas Hospital’s Statewide Clinical Consultation and Training staff.

According to James Lape, Vice President of Behavioral Health & Psychiatry at Trinitas, “no

other community-based hospital in New Jersey has a designated in-patient service for the developmentally disabled with mental illness.”

“Trinitas Hospital’s psychiatry services were already among the largest and most comprehensive in the state,” adds Lape. “With our past expertise in dealing with both mentally ill patients and the developmentally disabled, the formation of this unit addressed a statewide need for acute care services.”

Three divisions of the state of New Jersey’s Department of Human Services, Mental Health Services, Developmental Disabilities, and Medical Assistance and Health Services, and the New Jersey state Department of Health and Human Services, worked in partnership with Trinitas to develop the unit.

Alan Kaufman, Director of the state of New Jersey’s Division of Mental Health Services, oversees New Jersey’s system of psychiatric services. “This unit, unique in New Jersey, meets a very specialized need and the success of the unit dramatically improves treatment for the patients and allows them to remain closer to their home communities,” says Kaufman. “Trinitas should be proud of the high quality of this program and the fact that the hospital has identified an unmet need, designed an approach to better serve patients, and implemented that approach in an effective manner.”

James Smith, Director of the state of New Jersey’s Division of Developmental Disabilities, recently toured the new unit. “Trinitas has built a model mental health program for people with developmental disabilities,” says Smith. “In just one year, it is becoming known throughout the state for its effective approach.”

“This unit has been a benefit to both the state of New Jersey’s Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and its Division of Mental Health Services (DMHS),” adds Ted Calefati, Trinitas’ Director of Developmental Disability Services. The unit works with the 25 Screening Centers that are under the authority of the state Division of Mental Health Services. The unit is a viable option for the Screening Centers when they have an individual with developmental

disabilities in crisis. “We treated more than 150 patients in 2003, and over ninety percent of them were stabilized and returned to the community,” says Calefati.

Trinitas Hospital has a history of serving mentally ill/developmentally disabled individuals. The Division of Developmental Disabilities and the Division of Mental Health Services sponsor two other programs at Trinitas Hospital for dually diagnosed individuals.

“The Statewide Clinical Consultation and Training program (SCCAT) and Integrated Service Delivery Team (ISDT) have demonstrated competency and effectiveness in dealing with the psychiatric and behavioral problems of the developmentally disabled,” says Lucille Esralew, Ph.D., Program Director of SCCAT. The SCCAT program partners with the Developmental Disabilities Health Alliance in delivering services throughout the state. These programs work closely with the mentally ill/developmentally disabled unit at Trinitas and provide follow-up after discharge.

Trinitas Hospital’s Developmental Disabilities Service has developed a continuum of care model that includes monitoring individuals in the community, clinical consultation to mental health agencies, specialized inpatient treatment, an outpatient clinic, and system-wide collaboration and training.

“Through our programs, Trinitas is committed to meeting the needs of mentally ill/developmentally disabled patients and maintaining them in the community,” concludes James Lape.

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About Trinitas Hospital

Trinitas Hospital is a full service healthcare facility and a Catholic teaching hospital sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, serving those who live and work in Eastern and Central Union County. It is the result of the merger of Elizabeth General Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital in 2000. Operating on two major campuses, Trinitas Hospital offers 531 beds, including a 120-bed long-term care center. Trinitas Hospital provides comprehensive medical/surgical services, emergency services, senior services, adult and child/adolescent psychiatric care, cardiac care, cancer services, renal services, an infectious disease program, maternal/child health services including a high-risk newborn nursery, inpatient pediatric care, diabetes management center, wound healing center, sleep disorders center and a bloodless medicine program.

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