New Jersey’s largest provider of I/DD services joins the state’s largest hospital system to dramatically improve access to care for an underserved population
RWJBarnabas Health, Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, and Woods Services, are joining forces to establish the very first integrated primary and behavioral health care center for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and autism in New Jersey.
The Governor and the New Jersey Legislature recognized the critical need for I/DD services by supporting a grant of $800,000 toward the startup costs for the initiative. The world-class center is expected to open to families and individuals in early 2024 at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in Hamilton, Mercer County, New Jersey. The Center will serve individuals who live in the central New Jersey region, with future plans to expand services to other areas of the state.
By providing equitable access to primary, specialty, and behavioral health services, this Center will improve health outcomes and reduce the overall costs of care for children and adults with I/DD and autism, and related behavioral and medical conditions, many of whom currently face a severe lack of services.
Individuals with intellectual disabilities traditionally have poor health outcomes and a life expectancy that is nearly 20 years below that of the general population. Many have multiple severe conditions that require highly specialized services and careful care coordination across medical, social, and community services. Communication barriers, mobility issues, and severe mental or behavior concerns make care needs complex and difficult to access, creating significant health inequities. Furthermore, there is an extreme shortage of providers who can or will work with this complex population of largely Medicaid recipients, in part because of the need for longer office visits and specialized skills, lack of accessible medical offices, and low reimbursement rates. As a result, gaps in care are common and people in this population experience significant disparities in access to care and health outcomes.
This Center will address and overcome these barriers by providing innovative, comprehensive, and coordinated care across primary, specialty, and behavioral health settings. Patients of the center may receive comprehensive medical and behavioral services onsite or through outpatient telehealth and in-home visits. The addition of telehealth will extend the program’s reach and remove barriers to care that are unique to the I/DD and autistic populations.
“We are excited to partner with RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care to bring Woods’ highly successful and leading edge Patient-Centered Primary Care Model to New Jersey,” said Tine Hansen-Turton, Woods President and CEO. “Through the Medical Center at Woods, our model has shown that providing integrated primary care and behavioral healthcare can increase both access to and quality of care and, at the same time, lower overall Medicaid and Medicare cost of care by at least 20% by decreasing emergency room visits and inpatient hospitalization.”
“This new partnership highlights our shared commitment to increasing the capacity of existing primary care and behavioral health providers serving individuals with I/DD, ensuring that these patients receive the attention and specialized care they deserve,” said Frank A. Ghinassi, PhD, ABPP, Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health and Addictions services at RWJBarnabas Health and President and CEO of Rutgers University Behavioral Health. “Building a robust program of experts and a network of providers dedicated to caring for the I/DD population is a major step forward in addressing the gaps in care that these patients face all too often.”
About Woods Services and System of Care
Woods Services is a nonprofit, life cycle care management and advocacy organization that, along with six affiliate organizations located in Pennsylvania and New has formed a System of Care which provides innovative, comprehensive, and integrated health, education, housing, workforce, behavioral health, and case management services to more than 22,000 children and adults in the intellectual and developmental disability, mental health public health sectors who have complex and intensive medical and behavioral healthcare needs. For more information, visit woods.org.
About RWJBarnabas Health
RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering eight counties with five million people. The system includes twelve acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in Hamilton, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway in Rahway and Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, three acute care children’s hospitals, Children’s Specialized Hospital with a network of outpatient pediatric rehabilitation centers, a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, two trauma centers, a satellite emergency department, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, affiliated medical groups, multi-site imaging centers and two accountable care organizations.
RWJBarnabas Health is among New Jersey’s largest private employers – with more than 38,000 employees and 9,000 physicians– and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health launched an affiliation with Rutgers University to create New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. The collaboration aligns RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey – the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center – and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.
About Rutgers University Behavioral Care
Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care (RUBHC) provides a myriad of programs to address behavioral and physical health with individuals, families and communities throughout their lifespan. Services include all levels of care, such as inpatient, outpatient, community-based programs, integrated physical and behavioral health and 24-hour national peer help lines. RUBHC is dedicated to advancing science through programmatic research and educating the current and next generation of health care professionals.
Amazing! Let’s hope this is the first of many! Let’s also provide reality-based residential options for this population, offering intensive staffing and supervision as well as professionally driven clinical support and programming.