RWJ Barnabas Pollak Clinic at MMC Needs Makeover

Bridgewater. Sometimes we win.
New facilities opened in Eatontown by RWJBarnabas are commendable. Services available at Children’s Specialized Hospital as part of the Children’s Health Network are much needed in this centralized location – highly accessible with abundant parking. News accounts of a $45 million campaign supporting this facility and its services were made available.

Contemporaneously, behavioral health services for adults at the Pollak Clinic, also managed by Monmouth Medical Center and RWJBarnabas are deplorable. Pollak Clinic serves adult patients and clients with ongoing behavioral health needs. The physical environment at Pollak is shameful, not only to patients and clients but the dedicated health care professionals who endeavor to help their clients despite the rundown, poorly maintained, and uninviting physical plant.

On a recent visit to the clinic, not unlike other times, the exterior of the clinic has very few parking spaces. Patients regularly park in the street where parking is limited. The shabby outside is bleak, unadorned, and uninviting. That uninviting environment continues as one walks into the clinic to be greeted by a guard and then told to sit in a run down, drab, cinder blocked, poorly maintained physical facility with crowded chairs. Notices are taped to the walls slipped in binder inserts with a TV that continually drones Food Network. There is no relaxing music or plant life in the waiting area. This neglected drab cinderblock walled environment continues through the entire clinic campus including the therapists’ waiting area and offices. There were open holes in the office ceiling tiles, again demonstrating a lack of respect for the clients, their families, and professional caregivers.

As a center to help those with behavioral health needs, the administration and management of Monmouth Medical Center and RWJBarnabas Health should be highly embarrassed for treating the clients of Pollak Clinic as second-class citizens, and by association their health care providers and staff. One would think the management would know that the behavioral health population are vulnerable, subject to a range of emotions not limited to shame, heightened emotions of all kinds, and a desire mixed with fear for help with treatment. People with physical health care needs and their professional caregivers are given positive and caring environments in which to be treated. Why would it be any different for people with behavioral health needs?

My wife and I wrote a letter to the management team of RWJ Barnabas and Monmouth Medical Center, Mr. Mark Manigan and Mr. Eric Carney, not only identifying the substandard conditions of the clinic but with a suggested website article on best practices for designing and maintaining a mental health clinic. One of the executives responded with what was essentially a form response acknowledging that some cosmetic problems could be addressed and extolling the recent new clinics at Monmouth Mall.

Along those lines, given the facilities opened at Monmouth Mall, this may be a very appropriate time and place to open a renewed and vastly improved Pollak clinic. This is a central location with abundant parking, and has public transportation. It is beyond time that the  RWJBarnabas Health Group prioritizes this neglected area and population and puts patient needs at the forefront.

Jonathan Shutman

Ocean, NJ 07712

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