Inspira hospital in Bridgeton is home to new detox, addiction treatment unit
JOSEPH P. SMITH @JPSMITH_DJ
BRIDGETON – An addiction treatment unit newly created inside Inspira Health Center Bridgeton was dedicated on Wednesday, and officials anticipate its first patients will be arriving next month following final state approval.
The Inpatient Acute Medical Detoxification and Addiction Treatment Center ultimately will handle as many as 20 people, and it is the only such facility closer than Princeton. The center supplants a hospice care area at Inspira Health Center Bridgeton, located at Irving and Manheim avenues.
Inspira Health Network officials said they will steer addiction cases, both drugs and alcohol, here from its five-county coverage area in South Jersey. The network is hoping to have New Jersey Department of Health final approval by mid-July.
John DiAngelo, president and chief executive officer, said the unit would open with 10 beds at first and with the remainder available before the end of the year. The necessary staff, many of whom were at the morning ribbon-cutting and reception, already are hired and trained, he said.
“I think this is the next step for us in helping the opioid crisis,” DiAngelo said. “We’ve been in the forefront in working with our community.”
DiAngelo said the health center in Bridgeton was selected as the site because it already hosts the network’s mental health unit. “We serve five counties out of Bridgeton and the one noticeable piece we did not have was detox,” he said.
DiAngelo said the new unit builds on the network’s other efforts to deal with addiction, from providing emergency medication to putting homeless people into homes.
Inspira provides communities with the drug Narcan, which is used to revive people who have overdosed. More recently, the system began distributing the Deterra Drug Deactivation System.
Deterra was created to give people an easy way to make drugs harmless. It consists of a plastic pouch filled with a solution of water and deactivated carbon.
“What we find is, especially the older folks, they come in and they’ll have bags of drugs,” DiAngelo said. “And so they go, ‘What do I do with these?’”
DiAngelo said the detox unit gives the network a place to treat people before moving them into other programs.
Guests at the ceremony included Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly. The network’s commitment to the area over the years has moved him to conclude he was wrong in opposing past hospital mergers, he said.
“And I want to say `thank you’ to the board members for what you have done,” said Kelly, who formerly sat on a hospital board of directors. “You could have put this unit anyplace. We’re the one unit south of Princeton, and who ever thought ‘Bridgeton’ and ‘Princeton’ would be in the same sentence.”
Michael McLaughlin, chairman of the network board of directors, said the unit “fills a tremendous need” given the extent of the drug addiction problem.
“There’s an article almost every day in our papers,” McLaughlin said. “The end of the articles are usually tragic and have a very bad end. Hopefully, this can help change some of that. We can make a difference.”
Dr. Bruce Kaplan was hired as director of the detox unit.
Joseph P. Smith; (856) 563-5252; firstname.lastname@example.org