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(37th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) – Assembly Human Services Chairwoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) released the following statement Wednesday on the status of Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital:

“While it is unfortunate that the Hagedorn Task Force was unable to reach consensus, I am not surprised given the many restrictions placed on this body by Gov. Christie.
“The task force had only a few short months to solve a complex issue that would undoubtedly impact the entire New Jersey mental health system. The task force’s inability to reach a decision is not only a sign that no further action should be taken towards closing Hagedorn, but also that the administration should be cautious about proposing another similar plan .
“I have visited Hagedorn and many of New Jersey’s other mental health facilities so I know firsthand the difficult work done by the Department of Human Services in providing quality and cost efficient care. I believe that all parties involved have the same goal – improving New Jersey’s mental health system and expanding the range of care available while also being fiscally responsible.
“To achieve that goal we need an objective and comprehensive analysis, which is why I’ve sponsored legislation to establish the Legislative Review Panel on State Psychiatric Hospitals and Developmental Centers. The panel would be comprised of legislators from both parties and both houses ready to do the hard work of finding long term solutions to the cost and care problems plaguing the state systems designed to serve our most vulnerable populations.
“I look forward to delving further into the findings of the task force at a Assembly Human Services meeting by hearing from Commissioner Velez, members of the task force and concerned advocates.”