Two state lawmakers introduced a resolution this week urging Gov. Phil Murphy to reduce crowded conditions at a psychiatric hospital in north Jersey by reopening another facility Gov. Chris Christie closed six years ago.
Closing the Sen. Garrett W. Hagedorn Gero-Psychiatric Hospital in Glen Gardner did a disservice to the many elderly patients it once treated because they wound up at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany, according to the resolution by Sens. Richard Codey, D-Essex and Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex.
Greystone was built in 2007 to accommodate 450 patients, but was serving 560 in March, and 555 in June, according to the most recent data available on the state website.
Responding to an NJ Advance Media report in August that found Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany had seen a spike in patient attacks, Codey released a statement calling on Christie to reopen the hospital. Christie did not respond.
With fellow Democrat Murphy in office since Jan. 16, “Reopening Hagedorn is the right thing to do to address the crisis we now face,” Codey said.
“The Legislature of this state respectfully urges the governor to reopen the (hospital) so that the state can provide appropriate treatment and support to its older residents with mental illness who require hospitalization, and in the process potentially help to relieve the dangerous overcrowding of some of the state’s other psychiatric hospitals,” according to the lawmakers’ resolution.
Resolutions are not binding, but rather are official requests for the executive branch of governor to act. Murphy’s spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Christie heralded the closure of Hagedorn as a step toward shedding New Jersey’s reputation of warehousing its citizens with mental illness and developmental disabilities. Christie also shuttered two developmental centers and plowed most of the money into expanding community housing and services.
The former governor turned part of Hagedorn into a housing facility for homeless veterans, Veteran’s Haven North.
Choosing to close Hagedorn was a mistake, some lawmakers and mental health advocates argued. At 300 beds, it was among the smallest of the state’s four psychiatric facilities and considered among the best run.
“Codey and Vitale are 100 percent on the money,” Robert Davison said, CEO of the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Inc.
“Closing Hagedorn dramatically stressed the system and put the patients at risk, as evidenced by the fact that there are 529 people in Greystone as of this date, a hospital that was built for 450. Anyone who doesn’t understand this is either blinded by ideology or isn’t very good at math.”