Connections Fall 2018: LeaderVision


Carrier Clinic has been proud to serve our community and the needs of our friends and neighbors as the largest nonprofit behavioral health and addiction treatment facility in New Jersey for more than 100 years.

Now, as we embark on a new day in the life of Carrier Clinic, we humbly ask for your assistance and support.

This month Carrier Clinic hosted its 2018 “Kindred Spirit Gala” on December 1st at the Princeton Marriott
at Forrestal. The gala took place at a momentous juncture in our history, as Carrier prepares to become the behavioral health and addiction services arm of Hackensack Meridian Health in an anticipated merger this January.

In recognition of that milestone, Carrier Clinic’s gala honored its Board of Trustees members – both past and
present—and its hundreds of employees, who each day deliver unsurpassed care to individuals in dire need.

I mention this special moment in the great hope that you will choose to support Carrier Clinic in the future. Your generosity is critical as a means of expanding our mission—to inspire hope and recovery through expert treatment, education, compassionate care, and outstanding service. Your dollars are responsible for healing and saving lives. Every penny goes toward critical uses such as new facilities, ground-breaking research, alternative therapies including art, music and even equine therapy, as well as cutting-edge technologies. In fact, this newsletter details a number of those latest tools.

Carrier Clinic is at the forefront of protecting the aged infirm, the victims of drug and alcohol abuse, and the emotionally and mentally disturbed. Carrier’s mission has never been more vital and we are grateful for and honored by your generosity. Thank you.

-Michael Loch, Director, Fund Development

Seeing is Believing

Virtual Reality is becoming a new treatment tool in behavioral healthcare.

Imagine a tool that helps conquer one’s fear of heights. Imagine a device, strapped around your forehead, that helps you tackle social anxiety or psychosis.

Research studies at the university level in Europe and America are finding compelling evidence of how beneficial virtual reality can be to treat certain mental illnesses. As an extension of the proliferation of wearable device technology, studies are showing positive results using virtual reality as an effective tool for behavioral health modalities, as well as a pain management therapy working to curb the use and abuse of opioids.

Applied to exposure therapy, VR treatment is designed to present and trigger psychological responses to real situations — those that the patient associates with their problems. For acrophobia, the extreme fear of heights, VR might present a high building, elevator ride or an airplane ride. But because the patients know those images are not real, they can place themselves into situations with the assurance that no harm can actually happen. This exposure helps to show the patient that he/she is capable of confronting those fears and can properly manage them in the future. Helping patients confront and conquer their fears place VR as a new strategy of exposure therapy.

The promise of an alternative form of physical therapy that helps one’s recovery without developing a dependence on opioids has researchers applying VR into test programs of pain management. With the goal of giving patients control of their pain, they might be able to get them back to a more active life.

A better understanding by medical professionals of the brain’s ability to help control pain places VR as a new therapy within certain pain management programs. Knowing that the brain is highly sensitized to pain, if that sensitivity can be brought down, the pain might not be fully eliminated but may be better controlled. Calming, meditative sessions using scenic realities presented in virtual reality are being tested as a complement to physical exercise therapy.

These promising applications are forming a new virtual behavioral healthcare market. Projected to double in size in the coming years, its growth will be fueled by being a treatment tool that provides advantages of safety, control, and convenience.


Two leaders in Behavioral Healthcare make one great ‘Syllogism’…with positive benefits for all of New Jersey.

LEADERSHIP. It’s a concept that often defies easy definition, even when its presence, or absence, is clear to all. For one member of the regional healthcare community, however, the idea of a leader is something much different from
one who merely gives orders and bosses others around.

According to Carrier Clinic President and CEO Donald Parker, “A leader must have the skill of influencing people to enthusiastically work toward goals identified as being for the common good, with character that inspires confidence.”

The recent news that Hackensack Meridian Health has chosen Carrier Clinic to be part of its statewide network for behavioral health and addiction care has been described in business terms as a merger — but to Parker, the arrangement is “a relationship” that can be likened to the combined strengths of a syllogism “… in which you take components of different things to create a new word; a new concept.” Examples include “Humbition” — equal parts humility and ambition or “Emotisuasion” — the practice of emotional persuasion.

The relationship between Carrier Clinic and Hackensack Meridian Health can be described as one of LeaderVision (the leadership of the region’s most established, high quality, innovative and extensive health network, with the forward-thinking vision of an innovator in the mental health field), in which the Carrier family has “the opportunity to partner with one of the finest health systems in the nation,” boasting 16 hospitals and more than 450 ambulatory care sites throughout the Garden State.

In addition, it’s “an opportunity to take two excellent providers and multiply your expertise” in a way that allows the highly respected Carrier Clinic team an avenue toward developing inpatient substance abuse programs across multiple sites. It gives the entire Hackensack Meridian Health network access to the mental health and addiction services that Carrier Clinic has specialized in for more than 100 years; a complete spectrum of therapies that serves more than 6,000 patients yearly from the Belle Mead, New Jersey campus.

As Parker explains, under the new alliance with Hackensack Meridian Health, “I will also be providing leadership for integrative medicine…solving issues without resorting to pharmaceutical solutions.” Carrier will be managing such aspects of care as crisis intervention and ambulatory services for the network, as well as a systemwide psychiatric residency program — with the goal to “provide a product that’s responsive to the patient…the right care, at the right time, with the right cost, and the right quality.”

The Carrier Clinic brand has come to stand for a forward-thinking approach to behavioral healthcare. It’s one that explores and embraces methodologies ranging from the most cutting-edge of technological advancements, to the age-old therapeutic benefits of working with animals, gardening, or creating art and music. Set to launch in 2019 is a new telepsychiatry system that incorporates facial recognition software first introduced to Veteran Administration hospitals — technology that takes screenshots of a patient’s facial expressions, correlating the images with diagnostic information in a way that assists the psychiatrist in determining more effective psychiatric diagnoses and treatment plans.

Carrier Clinic has also taken the lead among all other behavioral healthcare facilities in the region with Nexalin, a drug-free, noninvasive and painless treatment that uses low voltage frequencies to regulate and stabilize the brain’s neurochemicals.

A new clinical study conducted in partnership with the University of Arizona, and under the supervision of an independent institutional review board, enabled Carrier Clinic to study the long- and short-term impacts of Nexalin on substance abusers. Another upcoming clinical trial, this one in partnership with Princeton University, will examine the use of “a wearable device that transmits readouts of six vitals to a learning system on a second-by-second basis,” creating a personalized profile that can “determine deviation from the patient’s recovered state. We
expect the tool to enable us to more accurately and preemptively predict potential patient relapses.”

We’re Still Here

Carrier Clinic’s Older Adult Unit shines a caring light on a sometimes forgotten population.

In the words of Nyree Sampson, “the older adult population is unique.” As the director of the Older Adult Unit at Carrier Clinic, she oversees a specialized 32-bed facility in which the men and women range in age from 60 on up — a subset of the patient population that presents its own unique set of challenges.

Whether it’s the loss of a spouse, a job, or a physical injury, something is missing in their lives…and addictive behaviors come into play as a way to deal with the pain and the loss.

-Nyree Sampson

Divided into two wings — an East Wing for more ambulatory patients, and a West Wing for those requiring a heightened level of medical care — the facility sees to the needs of those for whom addiction has been a major part of their lives for decades, as well as those who are in a time of increased dependence on opioid narcotics. With many of the unit’s admissions suffering from various forms of dementia — the team must work closely with a network of parties that include any surviving relatives, social workers, assisted living facilities, the legal system, and New Jersey’s Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) professionals.

According to Sampson, “It really is a different approach than what you would see with young patients;” one in which family members are not always available, and in which doctors continuously evaluate the patients to individualize a discharge plan designed to “get them back to baseline, or better” — whether in an assisted living situation, a long-term care facility, or a home care plan with visiting nurse service.

While many in the older patient population require a greater degree of assistance in feeding, cleaning and caring for themselves, there are others who thrive through “alternative” treatment programs like music and art therapy or even tending the unit’s in-house vegetable garden.

“Ultimately, it’s about letting the patient express their personality; keep their dignity, and do things for themselves,” adds the unit director. “To treat them with respect, give them purpose…and let them know, ‘you’re still here’.”

Carrier Profile

Nyree Sampson RN, BSN, Director, Older Adult Unit at Carrier Clinic

“This work is a part of me,” explains Nyree Sampson, a registered nurse, and director of the Older Adult Unit at Carrier Clinic.

I come from a family with a strong work ethic, and that sense of family is important here as well.

Part of the Carrier team since 2014, Sampson came to Belle Mead as a member of the Adolescent Unit, having previously worked with at-risk youth as a staff nurse at Hoboken Hospital. At Carrier Clinic, she quickly gained experience in settings that included the Detox and Psych units — and eventually the Older Adult facility, where she assumed the directorship in February 2018.

A resident of Plainfield, where she lives with her husband and son, Nyree maintains interests that range from “seeing every movie that comes out,” to such “adrenaline activities” as jet skiing, parasailing and cliff jumping. And, as a professional whose focus is on compassionate care, she admits to one significant way in which she “takes my work home with me.”

“I’m a very compassionate person…I believe that how you treat people, how you speak to them, can be the most important thing you do,” she explains. “Just saying ‘hello’ to someone could be the best thing that’s happened to them all day.”

Walk of Hope

Carrier Clinic’s 8th annual Walk of Hope, held on September 15, 2018, raised $50,000 and had 300 participants.

Walkers of all ages enjoyed a free breakfast, live entertainment, activities, and an opportunity to see firsthand how their contributions are helping people in their community.

The Carrier Clinic 2018 Kindred Spirit Gala

This year, Carrier’s annual event looked both forward and back.

The 2018 Kindred Spirit Gala stands as a celebration of good things past, present and future. The fall fundraiser was hosted at the Princeton Marriott on December 1 with a cocktail reception, dinner, and live entertainment.

Proceeds from the gala support Carrier Clinic’s programs and patients. Contributions are still being accepted in honoring the contributions and commitments of our staff and board. Please contact Michael Loch at

A salute to board members past and present, and the continuing skill of our expert workforce…as well as this new future filled with hope and promise.

-Carrier President and CEO Don Parker and Board Chairman Tom Amato