St. Joseph’s Health and Hackensack Meridian Health: 20th Anniversary of Acute Rehabilitation Unit & One-Year Anniversary of Rehabilitation Partnership

St. Joseph’s Health and Hackensack Meridian Health this month are celebrating the one-year anniversary of their clinical affiliation that brought the expertise of the Hackensack Meridian Johnson Rehabilitation Institute to serve residents of North Jersey at the St. Joseph’s Wayne Medical Center campus. 

In addition, St. Joseph’s Wayne Medical Center is commemorating the twentieth anniversary of its 20-bed inpatient Acute Rehabilitation Unit. Since opening in November of 2002, the unit has provided individualized care to thousands of patients to help them regain function and return to an independent lifestyle.  

“As we celebrate twenty years of delivering comprehensive, acute inpatient rehabilitation services, I want to thank our dedicated, multi-disciplinary rehab team for the outstanding care they provide to every patient – day-in and day-out,” said Kevin J. Slavin, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health. “This high-quality rehabilitation program is a shining example of St. Joseph’s commitment to offering advanced care and leading expertise to meet the healthcare needs of our entire community.”

In 2021, St. Joseph’s Health partnered with Hackensack Meridian Health to bring the expertise of the Hackensack Meridian Johnson Rehabilitation Institute (JRI), offering the highest levels of rehabilitation medicine. Recognized as one of the nation’s top acute rehabilitation hospitals by US News, with leading experts and specialty programs, the Johnson Rehabilitation Institute services are now available at St. Joseph’s Wayne Medical Center.

“We are delighted to celebrate the one year anniversary of our rehabilitation clinical affiliation with St. Joseph’s Health,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “Throughout the state, our rehab experts have been improving lives through their vast expertise in healing and restoring quality of life after a serious illness or traumatic episode.  This affiliation has placed our advanced services closer to home for residents of Northern New Jersey.”

For more than 50 years, the nationally-acclaimed JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, located in Edison, New Jersey, has been a leader in the field, breaking ground in the areas of stroke rehabilitation, innovative orthopedic programs, cutting edge sports rehab, and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. 

“My team was warmly welcomed by the St. Joseph’s staff,” said Roger Rossi, DO, medical director, Acute Rehabilitation Unit at St. Joseph’s Wayne Medical Center. “We, in turn, are grateful for the collaborative approach to care and for the opportunity to help more patients in their journey to recovery from a debilitating medical condition or accident.”

Dr. Rossi’s team at St. Joseph’s includes Veronica Chehata, MD, who joined the team in October 2022 after completing a fellowship in care for spinal cord injury several years ago, in addition to Anthony Doss, MD. These physicians treat patients with complex rehabilitation injuries such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, amputations, neuromuscular and neurological conditions, major trauma, and other medical complexities. Dr. Rossi’s extensive background in Parkinson’s has expanded care in focus to include more functional and neuromuscular disorders like Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and post stroke care.

“Our team shares a passion about reducing disability and maximizing functional independence after a patient sustains an injury or suffers from a debilitating disease that has compromised their functional ability,” said Priscilla Kaszubski, DO., Chair, Rehabilitation Medicine, St. Joseph’s Health. “We are dedicated to the treatment and recovery of our patients to improve the quality of life to the greatest possible extent.”

“The success of this program at St. Joseph’s has exceeded our expectations,” said Sara Cuccurullo, MD, chair, vice president and medical director of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. “Our highly trained experts are advancing the work in helping patients reach their highest levels of recovery.”

Since St. Joseph’s Health is certified as a Comprehensive and Primary Stroke Center, reflecting the highest level of competence for the treatment of serious stroke events, patients and families can be assured that inpatient rehab is delivered according to national quality standards. Other patients who benefit from care at the Acute Rehabilitation Unit include those recovering from hip fractures, joint replacements, trauma, amputations, and neurological disorders.

Three years ago, St. Joseph’s Health and Hackensack Meridian Health announced a clinical and strategic partnership that deepens both organizations’ commitment to providing access and delivering the most advanced care throughout the region. Expanding rehabilitation services is one such example of how the partnership is bringing additional expertise to the community.