PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
May 27, 2014

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Roundtable to Promote Awareness Among Health Care Providers Of Post Sandy Stress in Children and Families

New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd and Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake will co-host a roundtable discussion with physicians in Red Bank to raise awareness among health care providers of the need to screen and refer children and families challenged by post-Sandy stress.

The two commissioners will also discuss state efforts to address the impact of Sandy on children and families. The roundtable will be held on Wednesday, May 28th at 11 am. in the Rechnitz Conference Center at Riverview Medical Center, One Riverview Plaza, in Red Bank.

"Some families impacted by Sandy continue to face challenges. Studies have documented that after events like Sandy, increases are seen in problems coping with stress and trauma-such as behavioral health issues, household discord, substance abuse and domestic violence," said Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "Health care providers should be aware of the signs and symptoms of stress in the patients they are training so they can refer them to appropriate resources."

"That's why the Department of Health recently awarded $2.2 million to 10 community health centers and hospitals to provide behavioral health screenings to more than 48,000 people for conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse," Commissioner O'Dowd said.

"The stress many families experience as they recover from Superstorm Sandy can be emotionally and physically harmful, especially to children and youth," said Commissioner Blake. "This type of stress in children and youth can alter brain development and increase chances for disease and cognitive impairment as they grow up. By detecting signs of stress in children and families and directing them to helpful resources, doctors can help stop stress from fracturing families and robbing healthy childhoods."

To support children and families dealing with Superstorm Sandy-induced toxic stress, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families and the American Academy of Pediatrics - New Jersey Chapter - are providing special training for New Jersey pediatricians and family practice physicians. Thanks to the state's allocation of more than $1 million in SSBG funds, the training program teaches physicians how to help patients manage post-Sandy stress. Physicians learn to provide psychological first aid, recognize and intervene with children and families in distress, and access and refer children and families to community resources.

 Participants in the roundtable include:


  • Meridian Health President and Chief Executive Officer John K. Lloyd,
  • Dr. Joseph Miller, Corporate Director, Neuroscience, Behavioral Health, Orthopedics & Rehabilitation Medicine, Meridian Health
  • Dr. Margaret Fisher, pediatric infectious disease specialist; Monmouth Medical Cetner; president NJ chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Dr. Ramon Solhkhah, pediatric and adolescent psychiatrist, Jersey Shore University Medical Center
  • Dr. Salvatore Bernardo, Jr., family practice physician; CentraState Medical Center; Chairman, immediate past president, NJ Academy of Family Physicians
  • Dr. CherylBettigole - Chief Medical Officer, CompleteCare Health Network; Immediate Past-President, National Physicians Alliance
  • Dr. Lorraine Freed Garg, Director of Maternal and Child Health Services for the Department of Health
  • Renee Burawski, director of Sandy Recovery for the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Department of Human Services

 For more information on the SSBG funding, please visit: https://nj.gov/health/news/2014/approved/20140410a.html

For directions to Riverview Medical Center, please visit:  http://www.riverviewmedicalcenter.com/RMC/forpatientsandfamilies/patientandvisitorguide/Directions.cfm

Last Reviewed: 5/27/2014