MEDIA ADVISORY – Senate Health Committee To Hear On Hagedorn Closing Tomorrow

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Panel Will Receive Testimony on Placement Status of Individuals Being Discharged or Transferred from North Jersey Psychiatric Hospital

TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will meet tomorrow to hear from invited guests about the scheduled closure of the Senator Garrett W. Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in June, and what that means for people currently being treated there.

“For the residents at Hagedorn, the need for services and treatment doesn’t end simply because the State has decided to shut the hospital down,” said committee Chairwoman, Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen. “We have a responsibility to ensure the continuity of care for those individuals who need it, and to make their transition to community-based care or other residential mental health treatment facilities as stress-free as possible. From what I’ve heard anecdotally from some advocates, there’s concern that the State isn’t living up to its full responsibility to the residents of Hagedorn.”

“The Administration may have decided that closing Hagedorn is the most cost-effective option, but unless we have a plan for the continued care and support of the residents of the hospital, it’s far from the most humane option,” said committee Vice-Chair, Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex. “Before we start divvying up State resources and taxpayer dollars, we need to make sure that we have a comprehensive plan in place to address the concerns of the individuals being treated there and their family members. If such a plan exists right now, the Administration hasn’t done a very good job of communicating that to the people who will be most affected by Hagedorn’s closure.”

The Health Committee will receive testimony from invited guests regarding the scheduled closure of Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in June of 2012. Specifically, the Committee will receive testimony on the placement status of the individuals being transferred or discharged from the facility.

Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in Warren County has been targeted for closure since early in Governor Christie’s term of office, according to the two lawmakers. In his first budget, Governor Christie proposed closing the facility, but the proposal to close Hagedorn was met with bipartisan opposition, with State Senators Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, and Michael Doherty, R-Warren and Hunterdon, sponsoring legislation to create a task force to review the need for Hagedorn. Despite the task force’s findings that Hagedorn was an essential part of the State’s mental health and treatment infrastructure, Governor Christie vetoed $9 million for the facility which was included in Legislative Democrats’ budget proposal last year.

The hearing will be held in Committee Room 1 on the first floor of the Statehouse Annex in Trenton, and is scheduled to begin at 11:00 AM.