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FILE - In this May 25, 2017 file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during Caron Treatment Center's Executive Luncheon on the Opioid Crisis at the headquarters of Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia. Christie has come out against a new Republican proposal that would allow police to gain access to the state's prescription drug database without a warrant, but the bill's sponsor says he will still push the bill this year, and even in 2018, if he's re-elected. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The Associated Press

New adult acute-care psychiatric inpatient beds are coming to two Cumberland County providers to address a statewide shortage and growing demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Gov. Chris Christie announced earlier this month the state approved 811 psychiatric beds among 26 facilities statewide, including two in Cumberland County, to effectively treat more people suffering from mental health and/or substance-use disorders.

“There is an immediate need for inpatient care so people can get the treatment they need to get better and return to their communities,” Christie said in a statement. “We welcome these providers as partners in expanding much needed mental health services.”

Among the awarded providers are Inspira Medical Centers Elmer, Bridgeton and Woodbury and Cumberland Behavioral Health LLC. The latter is one of four providers that were approved for new inpatient beds along with the construction of new psychiatric hospitals.

State officials announced in January that New Jersey would need 864 more adult acute-care psychiatric beds to meet a growing demand for services by determining there should be 40 beds per every 100,000 adults in each county.

By that estimate, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean counties are collectively short about 17 beds. There are 163 beds in The Press’ coverage area, and all beds for Atlantic and Cape May county residents are at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Galloway Township.

Hackensack Meridian Health Ocean Medical Center in Brick Township was approved to expand acute-care beds for Ocean County residents, according to state officials.

Emergency-room visits in New Jersey hospitals increased overall by more than 117,000 patients from 2014 to 2015, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association. Nearly 54,000 new cases included a mental health or substance-use disorder diagnosis.

About 7.9 million adults in the United States had co-occurring mental health and substance-use disorders, according to a 2014 survey by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Christie called the expansion the largest of the state’s inpatient capacity in 20 years, or a 40 percent increase in the total number of beds.

State health officials said approved providers will need to have the beds available within two years. The seven awarded psychiatric hospitals must provide a minimum of 5 percent of their annual patient days for Medicaid patients and another 5 percent of patient days for uninsured people.

An additional 53 beds are awaiting approval, after which the state Department of Health will have expanded the statewide total to the 864-bed goal. Officials said they hope to expand in Hunterdon, Warren and Morris counties with the remaining inpatient beds.

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Contact: 609-272-7022 NLeonard@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressNLeonard

Previously interned and reported for Boston.com, The Asbury Park Press, The Boston Globe

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