But just this past June 19, BMC sent a more positive message when it announced a partnership with Horizon Health to provide acute inpatient psychiatric services to Bayonne and surrounding communities.
The agreement with Horizon Senior Behavioral Health Services would provide in-patient psychiatric services with a focus on geriatrics, or elderly people.
Dan Kane, president and chief executive officer of BMC, said research showed a need in Bayonne to provide such services for the senior population, and this focus would allow the hospital to provide in-patient psychiatric services to others as well.
Neil Callahan, vice president of operations for Horizon Health, said his company operates similar services in 132 hospitals nationwide.
Kane said Horizon will bear the cost of the operation, but BMC will receive the benefit from in-patient admissions. BMC will get about $700 to $800 per admission.
In the past, BMC ran the operations, but was forced to cut back two years ago because of rising overhead.
The hospital is licensed for 15 beds in the psychiatric department, and Callaghan estimates the average stay at about 10 days.
Horizon, which took over psychiatric operations at the hospital on May 15, will have a staff that includes a program director, community education manager and clinical assessment coordinator. Dr. Jacob Jacoby, Dr. Eric Gewolb and Dr. Scott Aftel of BMC will be serving as the unit's medical directors.
Horizon Health Behavioral Health Services is owned by Psychiatric Solutions, Inc. (PSI) and has provided high-quality psychiatric contract management services to general hospitals for more than 25 years. Horizon is currently the largest provider of contract managed psychiatric services within community-based hospitals in the United States.
While BMC will continue to serve the adult population 18 years of age and older, the focus going forward will be geriatric psychiatry (for adults 55 and older).
To qualify for inpatient geriatric behavioral health services, a person must have a primary psychiatric diagnosis. Common diagnoses include, but are not limited to, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, dementia with depression, psychosis and behavioral disturbances. Each potential admission is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the admitting psychiatrist to ensure that the needs of the patient can safely be met while being treated at the program.
Callahan said the program will include treatment, group activities led by a social worker or psychologist, and other programs.
Depression in Bayonne
Joseph Kadian, executive director of the Bayonne Community Health Foundation, said a 1998 study which compared Bayonne to other similar communities, such as North Bergen, said residents of Bayonne faced serious problems with depression, psychosis and alcohol abuse, often in combination.
Kadian said the Community Health Center in Bayonne serves about 1,800 people, and about 900 of them are in need of mental health services.
He said with 20 percent of the population of Bayonne 55 years old or older, there is a need for geriatric mental health services here.
Mayor Terrence Malloy applauded the agreement, saying that it was another indication of the hospital's recovery.
"We are seeing the hospital reconnect to the community by providing services needed," he said. "This is a sign of progress, and an important step."