Dr. Elnahal, New Health Commissioner, to Keynote NJAMHAA’s Conference April 10th

NJAMHAA to Honor Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, Applauds DOH Appointments

Even before being sworn in today by Governor Phil Murphy as New Jersey's 21st Commissioner of the Department of Health (DOH), Dr. Shereef Elnahal agreed to present the keynote address, Creating Balance through Integrated Care, at the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies' (NJAMHAA's) Annual Conference on the morning of April 10, 2018 at the Pines Manor in Edison, New Jersey.

Dr. Elnahal will speak on plans to move forward on the priorities of the newly established Integrated Health Services branch, which includes the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and Community Health Division. The Integrated Health Services branch was designed to increase efficiency, coordination and integration of the state's mental health and addiction prevention and treatment programs with the delivery of primary health care. The vision for the branch is to create and sustain a seamless system of care by: improving physical and behavioral health outcomes and reducing health disparities; delivering services that are inclusive and diverse; engaging stakeholders in the development and implementation of a strategic plan that focuses on evidence-based prevention and treatment programs; and promoting access to services through technology and innovative strategies.

"We are delighted that Dr. Elnahal will be the keynote speaker at our upcoming conference. The timing is perfect with the relatively recent move of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services to the Department of Health, which we believe will open opportunities to provide truly integrated, holistic care for individuals with mental illnesses, substance use disorders and physical ailments," said Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of NJAMHAA. "The Division's ongoing dedication to New Jersey's vulnerable residents, as well as the new Commissioner's focus on improving access to and quality of mental health care and addressing the opioid crisis, clearly demonstrate that much progress will be made in these critical areas for the well-being of all New Jersey residents."

DMHAS Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke to Be Honored
NJAMHAA will honor another leader in DOH, Valerie Mielke, MSW, Assistant Commissioner, DMHAS, with the State Leadership in Mental Health and Addiction Services Award during the Courage and Compassion Awards Reception following the conference sessions on April 10, 2018 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Pines Manor. "We greatly admire Assistant Commissioner Mielke's leadership and we appreciate the initiatives she undertakes to improve access to and quality of services for individuals with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders, and her collaboration with NJAMHAA and other stakeholders to achieve these goals. From her earlier experience as a provider, Assistant Commissioner Mielke has always understood every facet of the field and she consistently demonstrates a personal interest that shines through in all of her communications and efforts," Dr. Wentz said.

"Assistant Commissioner Mielke has always emphasized the peer movement and supported the use of individuals with lived experience and recovery coaches. As she served as a Regional Director for a long time, she has a good understanding of the transition from hospitals into the community and what types of resources are needed, such as supportive housing and supported employment. It is very appropriate that she is now in a department that is emphasizing integrated health care because that has always been the focus of her approach," Dr. Wentz added.

NJAMHAA Applauds DOH Leadership Appointments
Along with being sworn in as DOH Commissioner, Dr. Elnahal announced the appointment of Deborah Hartel, MSW, ACSW, as Deputy Commissioner, overseeing the Integrated Health Services branch. Hartel most recently served as Administrative Director of Behavioral Health at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center.

"I have had the privilege of working with Deborah for many years, as she is the Immediate Past President of NJAMHAA's Board of Directors and has been active in other leadership capacities at NJAMHAA. We are pleased that she has been selected for this important role, as she has a wealth of knowledge and a deep understanding of the behavioral health system that will undoubtedly prove to be tremendous assets in her new, well-deserved position," Dr. Wentz said.

"NJAMHAA congratulates Dr. Elnahal, Deborah Hartel and all other appointees at DOH and we look forward to working with all of them to ensure timely access to the highest quality, integrated care for all New Jersey residents," Dr. Wentz added.

Dr. Elnahal appointed Magda Schaler-Haynes, who most recently served as Special Advisor for Health Care and Women's Issues to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, as Director of Policy and Strategic Planning; Jeff Brown, former Vice President of Policy at the Hospital Alliance of New Jersey, as Assistant Commissioner for Medicinal Marijuana; Maria Del Cid-Kosso, who recently served as Chief of Staff for Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry B. Green, as Legislative Services Director; and Robin Cincotta Ford, who previously worked as the lead fiscal analyst at the New Jersey Office of Legislative Affairs, as the Office of Healthcare Finance Director.

All Are Welcome to Attend NJAMHAA's Conference
NJAMHAA's Annual Conference, Creating Balance through Integrated Care, will be held April 10 and 11, 2018 at the Pines Manor in Edison, NJ. Details and online registration are available through www.njamhaa.org/events. Attendance at the Courage and Compassion Awards Reception is included with Day 1 conference registration. The fee to attend the reception only is $35 per person.

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