Statewide Psychiatric Program Aims To Help Adults Over 55

ELIZABETH — Studies and experience show that the process of aging in some individuals may result in more than debilitation of the body or medical issues associated with chronic illnesses. Often, as people age, they may develop behavioral and cognitive issues that need to be treated so that they can have an improved quality of life and also a higher degree of safety as they age.

The New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) of the Department of Human Services has recognized the challenges that this population faces and created a new service to assist in the care of older adults in the long term care setting who may suffer from mental illness and dementia.

DMHAS has announced that Trinitas Regional Medical Center, in collaboration with the New Jersey Institute of Successful Aging, UMDNJ, will implement the Statewide Clinical Outreach Program for the Elderly (S-COPE) throughout all 21 counties in the state. Through S-COPE, older adults who are at risk for making trips to emergency rooms and screening centers can be seen and assessed by clinicians who specialize in the care and management of geropsychiatric and behavioral problems. The target population is adults 55 years of age and older who reside in nursing facilities or DMHAS residential sites and who are at risk for psychiatric hospitalization.

“Trinitas’ involvement with this innovative program that addresses the needs of this distinct population underscores the reach of our services to the community, not only in the Central New Jersey region, but now throughout the state,” observes Gary S. Horan, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We greatly appreciate that the state has awarded Trinitas this contract. Our exceptionally qualified specialists and clinicians in the fields of behavioral health and psychiatry bring superior service, care and treatment to those in our community who face challenges that accompany mental and emotional conditions. We expect S-Cope to benefit many patients across the state who will receive these valuable assessments and other services.”

Clinical Administrator Lucille Esralew, PhD, and Program Director Roni Zarbiv, LCSW, will coordinate the consulting activities of clinicians at offices in Parsippany (Morris County), Cranford (Union County), Wall Township (Monmouth County) and Stratford (Camden County). S-COPE services are available round the clock, seven days a week, free of charge, at screening centers, inpatient psychiatric units, and long-term care facilities. Services include face-to-face on-site assessments and phone consultations; professional consultation regarding medication management; support recommendations; short-term assistance as clients transition following hospital discharge to long-term care residences; assistance to care facilities in development of emergency protocols for best use of acute care psychiatric resources; training and coaching for staff in the management of behavioral problems; assessment of clients to clarify diagnosis and assist in treatment planning and treatment and case-specific intervention suggestions.

“S-COPE provides crisis response and training of professionals that benefits older adults who experience psychiatric and behavioral issues,” explains Dr. Esralew. “We take a multi-disciplinary approach and use the expertise of a geropsychiatrist who specializes in treating older adults, geriatric nurse practitioners, a geropsychologist, and Master’s level clinicians. By working with nursing facility staffs, we will help them become more competent in responding to the needs of older residents with behavioral problems, especially those with dementia and psychiatric disorders.”

Long-term care facilities, DMHAS residential centers, in-patient psychiatric facilities and screen centers, may contact the S-COPE program 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-855-718-2699.

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