South Jersey hospitals team up to improve access to behavioral care

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Five South Jersey health care providers are banding together to offer better mental health services.

Health care leaders from throughout South Jersey attended a kickoff event to announce the partnership among Inspira, Virtua, Lourdes, Kennedy and Cooper hospitals.


Richard Miller, Virtua president and CEO, said the hospitals have more opportunities to make changes as a group than they do separately.

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“We just felt we couldn’t solve it by ourselves because it’s going to take community action, state support, county support, community groups in the community to work with the providers,” said Miller.

“We felt if we put our collective efforts together as five providers we would have a larger impact in developing the actions to help solve the problem.”

Miller says too many South Jersey residents are treated for mental health issues in the emergency room because they can’t pay for outpatient care.

The event also featured a presentation by representatives of Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, a group recognized for improving patient access to behavioral health care in Central Pennsylvania. Mary Ditri, director of professional practice with the New Jersey Hospital Association, said this begins a series of discussions about how to offer better behavioral care.

“We know that there’s a lot of good stuff going on in New Jersey, but we also know there’s a lot of good stuff going on across the country,” said Ditri. “So it’s important that this group hears what others are doing.”

It could take years implement significant change, Ditri said. The group has no concrete plan yet but will likely start by focusing on offering affordable mental health outpatient services in South Jersey.

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