South Jersey may lose nearly half of its inpatient drug treatment beds
As the heroin epidemic continues in the Garden State, a South Jersey drug treatment facility has announced that due to financial constraints, it will eliminate 119 beds this coming spring.
Alan Oberman, CEO of the John Brooks Recovery Center in Atlantic City, told NJ Advance Media that "due to a series of lapsed promises from state and local government, South Jersey will lose about 42 percent of its long-term treatment beds on April 1, 2016."
JBRC is currently the "largest public provider of inpatient substance abuse treatment" in the southern part of the state. According to the center's website, the facility "maintains a fiscal budget in excess of $8 million. JBRC's present staff of approximately 100 full time employees and 15 part-time employees."
News of the planned reduction in beds at the JBRC came a day after a speech made by Gov. Chris Christie went viral. In his emotional plea for drug policy reform, the governor spoke of his mother, who's smoking addiction led to a cancer diagnosis at age 71, and a friend from law school who's addiction to painkillers ultimately led to his death from an overdose.
Oberman told NJ Advance Media that there's often a waiting list for people seeking inpatient beds for treatment at JBRC. The article states that in 2013, the federal government estimated that 3 out of every 4 people in "New Jersey who need substance abuse treatment for drug addiction did not receive it."
"It would be a big blow to the continuum of care," Oberman told NJ Advance Media Tuesday. "It's not financial mismanagement or anything like that. We're just sort of the odd man out and we don't have much of a choice."
The Christie Administration - surprised about the announcement of the reduction in beds - told the publication that the state had offered the center long term and short term solutions to relocate the facility, but Oberman did not believe the solutions were viable. Oberman could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The Atlantic City-based facility first opened in 1969. It is housed in buildings that are about 100 years old. The city's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority hoped to move the center out of the tourism district and agreed in 2014 to help pay for relocation, NJ Advance Media reported. However, the article states, the $4.1 million offered wouldn't have been sufficient.
Oberman is hopeful that the state will eventually work to increase the reimbursement rates for substance abuse treatment, which was supposed to have been done by the summer of 2015.