ASSEMBLY PANEL TO EXAMINE FINDINGS OF MENTAL HEALTH FACILITIES TASKFORCE

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday to receive testimony on the findings and recommendations recently put forth by the State Mental Health Facilities Evaluation Task Force.

The hearing will take place on Thursday, Feb. 10, at 1 p.m. in Committee Room 16 on the fourth floor of the State House Annex in Trenton.

The taskforce was created by legislation sponsored, in part, by Committee Chairwoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, in order to evaluate Governor Christie’s proposal to close Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital and the impact it would have on New Jersey’s psychiatric facility system.

“Rushing the closure of Hagedorn would have been short-sighted and precarious,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) “Nobody wants to repeat the mistakes of previous failed relocation efforts like those at Marlboro and Ancora. Before we take any action that will affect hundreds of mentally ill individuals, it’s important that we make sure that they are absolutely necessary.”

The Senator Garret W. Hagedorn Gero-Psychiatric Hospital is the only geriatric psychiatric facility in New Jersey.

As a result, a 21-member task force was created to study the issue. The members included cabinet officials, two members – one from each political party – from both the Senate and the General Assembly and 13 public members who are residents of this state with a wide-range of expertise in health and mental health issues.

The task force was required to hold a minimum of three public hearings, in the south, central and northern parts of the state, respectively, and report its findings and recommendations to the governor and Legislature by February 1, 2011.