Salem Medical Center opens 26-bed Inpatient Psychiatric Unit, is accepting patients

Salem Medical Center has opened a 26-bed adult Inpatient Psychiatric Unit and is currently accepting patients, the hospital announced Thursday.

The 21,000-square-foot voluntary adult unit, which provides treatment services for individuals with mental health conditions, was given its final approval by the New Jersey Department of Health.

SMC board of trustees Chair William Colgan said the hospital is eager to play a greater role in the ongoing and developing behavioral health crisis.

“This expansion of services is part of our commitment to meet community needs — and there is no more important need today than additional behavioral health resources in the area,” he said. “This service is crucial for our region and will make a difference for the community of Salem and South Jersey.”

CEO Dr. Tammy Torres said the unit will provide a safe, secure place where individuals with behavioral health issues can receive compassionate treatment to move beyond the immediate crisis. And they can do it close to their homes.

“We have been given the opportunity to usher in this important service so that we can help many residents while keeping them near home in their own community,” she said. “The opening of the unit makes an immediate impact on an important need of our community.”

The patient-centered behavioral health services will provide comprehensive psychiatric assessment and treatment, one-on-one intervention and psychiatric stabilization/medication management. The unit features open and communal space to promote interaction and reduce isolation, and offers areas for group meetings.

The opening of the unit was highly anticipated by community leaders such as law enforcement, local government officials and health and behavioral health professionals.

“Adding behavioral health resources to the Salem County area is significant because there is such a great need not only in Salem County, but across the state,” Torres said. “In 2017, the New Jersey Department of Health put out a call to hospitals to expand behavioral health services. Salem Medical Center was granted 26 beds.”

Inpatient Psychiatric Unit Medical Director Bradford Bobrin and Saida Abdul-Aziz lead a fully supported staff, including representation from psychiatry, nursing, mental health therapists, rehabilitation therapists, social work and case management. They will work to diagnose and treat a wide variety of mental health conditions, including depression, acute mood and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and co-occurring psychiatric/substance use disorders.

“Inpatient care is the most intensive level of treatment for individuals suffering from behavioral health disorders,” Torres said. “It offers 24-hour care in a safe and secure environment, making it best for patients who experience an acute episode.”

SMC is also partnering with Legacy Treatment Services to provide outpatient behavioral health services. Legacy operates outpatient care to ensure continuity of care for individuals being discharged from the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit, as well as an outpatient resource to meet the needs of the community.

Legacy CEO Roy Leitstein said both organizations are committed to working cooperatively and engaging ongoing health care management barriers, saying they have a shared goal of providing high-quality, cost-effective medical care for the residents of Salem County.

“Our partnership will allow us to provide an integrated and seamless service modality for patients, meeting both their behavioral and medical treatment needs,” he said.

Legacy ensures a continuum of integrated care to meet individuals and families at their specific points of need. Legacy Treatment Services is an affiliate of Woods Services.

Since the early 1980s, SMC has served as the county’s designated psychiatric screening site, often the first step when dealing with psychiatric emergencies. The opening of the Salem Medical Center adult Inpatient Psychiatric Unit provides the next step in the continuum of care.

Torres said the facility helps SMC fulfill its greater mission of having impact.

“While this expansion demonstrates our continued commitment to investing in our community, it also represents a major step forward into our future as a medical center,” she said. “We are committed to helping patients with behavioral issues seek treatment and recover, safely integrating back into society.”