Bridgeway Leader Honored With Statewide Award

ELIZABETH — Buddy Garfinkle, associate executive director of Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services, has been named the 2013 New Jersey Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association recipient of the Mort Gati Award.

NJPRA bestows the Mort Gati Award, their most prestigious award, to a NJ mental health practitioner who embodies the philosophy of psychiatric rehabilitation, demonstrates a positive impact upon mental health needs and services, advocates for equal opportunities, human rights and improved quality of life for persons in recovery.

Garfinkle, who joined the Bridgeway staff in 1996 as the Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT ) Director and was named Associate Executive Director in 2009, holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from New York University and an M.S.W. from Hunter College. Prior to working at Bridgeway he taught Spanish in the NY City Public School system in the Bronx and served as Program Director for Residential Services for Bowery Residence Committee in New York from 1988-1996.

“It was clear at the beginning that Buddy would have a big impact on psychiatric rehabilitation at Bridgeway and beyond. His leadership led to the growth of PACT at Bridgeway to include nine teams serving 7 counties. In each county, Buddy successfully influenced the local acute care providers to view PACT as rehabilitative, not just a ‘hospital without walls.’ It took a lot of persuasion because traditional/medical model practitioners and providers did not look upon the service population with much hope nor expectation. In this regard, Buddy has been a great educator and change agent,” states Bridgeway Executive Director Cory Storch.

On the strength of Garfinkle’s skills and energy, Bridgeway received the state contract for the PACT Training and Technical Assistance Center. Through the TTA, Garfinkle mentored many of the PACT Directors and Team Leaders around the state and led the charge within New Jersey PACT to implement U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) evidence based practices, including Illness Management/Recovery and Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment.

When New York State implemented Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), Garfinkle was the lead trainer for the entire state over a two year period. He is co-author and presenter for “Motivational Interviewing in Action” (SAMHSA webcast, 2011). He has trained extensively on the subject of cultural competency, including as a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trainer at the Union County Police Academy. Garfinkle served on the NJPRA Board and as its President. He is recognized by policy makers at the NJ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services as a go to person.

As Bridgeway’s associate executive director, Garfinkle oversees Bridgeway’s various mental health programs serving 2200 people annually with a staff of more than 250. He led the Sussex County initiative to integrate five psychiatric rehabilitation services into a cohesive team and has orchestrated the implementation of numerous Olmstead service expansions at Bridgeway, enabling many people to successfully exit the state hospital and become integrated within their communities.

He is acknowledged by many psychiatric rehabilitation professionals as a mentor and teacher but, at the same time he stays connected with persons served and keeps his practitioner skills fresh. Through real and meaningful engagement, he has helped to instill the hope and belief in people that they can make changes in their lives.  Storch continues, “His many positive personal attributes – his spirit of adventure, curiosity, sense of humor, open-mindedness, global mindedness, “all-in” attitude, risk taking, vision, creativity and desire for continued growth are reasons why Buddy has been able to shape and transform Bridgeway and the New Jersey mental health system.”

Garfinkle’s influence also extends to the national and international scene as a highly sought after lecturer, writer and consultant. He recently co-authored the chapter “Assertive Community Treatment Teams” in Modern Community Mental Health, Oxford University Press, 2013.

For 40 years, Bridgeway has provided services to New Jersey adults who are experiencing serious mental illness. Through recovery-centered support services Bridgeway assists individuals to live as independently as possible, learn and work in the community, and improve their quality of life. Bridgeway has taken a leadership role in the state-wide transformation of mental health services to the recovery model and focuses on assisting people to recover meaningful and valued roles. Bridgeway services are available in Union, Hudson, Passaic, Middlesex, Somerset, Warren, Hunterdon, Sussex and Bergen Counties.

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