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Carrier Clinic President Introduces the World to Designing a Healing Mental Health Campus

BELLE MEAD, N.J. - Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic President Donald J. Parker addressed the European Healthcare Design Congress in London on the topic of “Designing a Healing Mental Health Campus to Create an Accessible Continuum of Compassionate Care” during the June 17-19 symposium entitled “Blurring the Boundaries – Designing Place-Based Health Systems.” The conference was sponsored by the Royal Conference of Physicians.

Parker noted Carrier as a pioneer in overcoming the dilemma of a behavioral health system that focuses on short-term solutions and grapples with the risk of long-term isolation of its patients.

“From a farm-based, grassroots initiative,” he said, “Carrier, in conjunction with NK Architects’ behavioral health design team, has conceived and developed a unique healing campus. Combining patient-designed care in unison with community-based initiatives and integrated leadership has resulted in the construction of a system of compassionate care that is helping to break through this stigma, and is designing a continuum of accessible empathetic care into the community and beyond. Compassion for humanity with alternative solutions and evidence-based best practices is the premise of the proposed solution to stigma and isolation.”

The presentation was supported by Erin Sharp-Newton, behavioral health design specialist at NK Architects in Morristown, N.J., and Ben Lee, CFO and principal at NK Architects and designer of Carrier Clinic’s ground-breaking campus expansion plan.

Parker showcased Carrier’s efforts in recycling old buildings, using windows as palettes for painters, bricks for signs, fence posts and special features, including grinding concrete for use as underlayment below new roads. Animals, including horses, goats, donkeys, peacocks, turkeys and guinea hens, interact with patients as part of Carrier’s animal-assisted therapy program.

A new greenhouse will be built this year in honor of the late John and Joyce Sheridan and the Sheridan family. John Sheridan was a board member at Carrier for more than 20 years, served as chief executive officer of Cooper Health System, and held various roles in key political positions within New Jersey. The Sheridans were vocal champions of expanded and improved behavioral health services. The greenhouse will become the central location for expansion of Carrier’s horticultural therapy program.

Carrier also offers music therapy, including an evening bedside harp program that focuses on introducing calming acoustical influences throughout the hospital, as well as a healing arts therapy program for its teen-age and adult patients.

Carrier’s carbon footprint was reduced by the installation of 3,000 new LED light fixtures, which reduce electrical consumption and create natural spectrum lighting that helps to heal multiple forms of depression. And in another nod toward environmental stewardship, a recently installed 14-acre solar energy farm produces nearly 50 percent of Carrier’s electricity consumption.



For additional resources, please see:

Blurring the boundaries: Designing place-based health systems"

About The European Healthcare Design
European Healthcare Design adopts a whole-system approach to redesigning international health systems, services, and infrastructure through the exchange of knowledge, research and best practice. It will help tackle social isolation, providing cognitive stimulation, reducing stress, and supporting rehabilitation. We can use the fusion of art and digital technology in the real and virtual worlds to improve outcomes and enhance staff and patient experience.

About Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic
Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic, a private, nonprofit behavioral health care provider, specializes in psychiatric and addiction treatment. Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic includes an inpatient psychiatric hospital, detoxification and rehabilitation center, adolescent residential facility, and a fully accredited middle and high school for students classified emotionally disturbed. For more information about Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic and its services visit or call 1-800-933-3579.



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