UNION, NJ – Representatives of Children’s Specialized Hospital came before Union's Board of Adjustment Wednesday night with their proposal for variance requests necessary for their move to a long-vacant building, known as the Money Store, on Morris Avenue.   The building has been unoccupied for at least a decade.

According to Charles Chianese, VP and Chief Operating Officer for Children’s Specialized Hospital, part of the RWJ Barnabas Health System, the facility will be utilized for outpatient services, replacing many of the services currently being provided at their Mountainside and Warren locations.  “We will be consolidating our outpatient services in Mountainside and Warren into the Union facility.”

Chianese said Children’s Specialized Hospital is the nation’s leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care for children from birth to 21 years of age facing special health challenges, from chronic illness and complex physical disabilities, like brain and spinal cord injuries, to developmental and behavioral issues, such as autism and mental health.

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Services at the Union location, at 2840 Morris Avenue, will include primary care for children with special healthcare needs and specialty physician services , including neurodevelopmental, physiatry, and psychiatry, said Chianese.  Therapy services will include physical, occupational, and speech therapies and psychology services.  

Regarding approval for a covered canopy at the site, Chianese said many of the children served by Children’s Specialized Hospital require adapted equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, braces and other mobility devices to make them as independent as possible.  “Having a covered canopy will assist our parents and patients greatly.  It will allow them to safety drop a child with their equipment off safety and with ease .  This is a process that can be very lengthy and difficult for them if they need to park and walk a distance from the entrance.”

Plans also propose an enclosed playground to “make the site more patient/child friendly,” said Chianese, “but more importantly our therapists at times utilize this area for therapy in a natural environment which we find very beneficial for their treatment.”

Chianese said last year Children’s Specialized Hospital saw approximately 40,000 children in all of their facilities, encompassing about 230,000 appointments.  He estimates the Union facility likely generate 85,000 visits a year.  Hours of operation are intended to be 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, said Chianese.  Planned hours of operation for Saturday are 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

“We are very, very excited about this Union facility,” said Chianese.  “We are excited about being good citizens in the community of Union.  The clinicians are really fired up about this location.  We are making a significant investment into this facility, and we are really excited about the potential this site has to offer to our families and children.”

According to Chris Roche, Principal, Langan Engineering, the site is 3.65 acres bordered by Morris Avenue, Spruce Street, Spruce Court to the south, and the Rahway River to the west.  There will be 274 parking stalls, 14 ADA accessible.  He said there will be significant upgrades to the sidewalks, parking lot with new landscaping, and the replacement of all existing light fixtures.

The Children’s Specialized Hospital proposal was unanimously approved by the Board of Adjustment members.