April 5, 2019
Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert C. Garrett addressed the nation’s major health care experts in Chicago Thursday, calling for more innovative care delivery, greater support of medical education and new strategies to transform behavioral health care.
With more than 3,000 lives lost in New Jersey’s opioid crisis last year, Mr. Garrett called for all health care providers to “treat behavioral health care the same as we treat cancer, cardiac disease and other chronic illnesses.’’
More than 4,000 people attended Becker’s Hospital Review’s 10th Annual Meeting which also featured former President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton and journalist and producer Katie Couric.
Mr. Garrett’s interview with Becker’s Publisher Scott Becker focused on many groundbreaking developments underway at Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network with 17 hospitals and more than 500 patient care locations reaching two-thirds of the state population.
Specifically, Mr. Garrett updated leading health care executives and policy makers about the network’s merger with Carrier Clinic, which will result in the opening of new drug treatment centers – including the first in Bergen County later this year – and the state’s first behavioral health urgent care centers.
“We will transform behavioral health care by expanding access to treatment, coordinating care and innovating treatment,’’ Mr. Garrett said. “We must end the stigma around addiction and mental illness that prevents people from getting help.’’
Additionally, the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University is transforming medical education in three major ways: offering a three year path to residency; providing interdisciplinary learning and a community immersion program which pairs students with patients in underserved communities so they have a greater understanding of the social determinants of health.
“We will humanize health care,’’ Mr. Garrett said. “We will create a physician workforce ready to thrive in a new state of health care.’’
The school, located in Clifton and Nutley, will soon welcome its second class. Nearly 5,000 applicants have applied for 90 slots.
Hackensack Meridian Health is also a national leader in innovation and supports a $25 million fund to encourage the next breakthroughs in care delivery. The program, known as the Bear’s Den, has provided funding for two major developments: Pillo, a home health robot that automatically dispenses medication and PurpleSun, which uses ultraviolet light in a 90-second cycle to kill germs to reduce the potential for hospital-acquired infections.
“We are not satisfied with the status quo,’’ Mr. Garrett said. “We are committed to providing the most cutting-edge care, the best patient experience and affordable, convenient, health care.’’