Behavioral Health & Psychiatry
Our multidisciplinary team delivers unsurpassed care utilizing an array of techniques, including counseling, therapy and treatments by board-certified psychiatrists. Each day, we put people of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities on the road to happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.
Debra Simon Center for Integrative Behavioral Health & Wellness
As specialists caring for adults, adolescents and children, the compassionate behavioral health professionals of the Debra Simon Center for Integrative Behavioral Health & Wellness know that “total body health” involves a complex, harmonious relationship between body AND mind.
Our center embraces the bio-psychosocial-spiritual approach to integrative care. The strength of our Behavioral health team enables us to treat the whole person and to ensure individualized treatment plans. Our goal is to optimize each person’s strengths on their road to wellness.
The Debra Simon Center of Integrative Behavioral Health & Wellness utilizes medications judiciously and always in combination with psychotherapy and integrative modalities. Offerings such as yoga, stress management, group therapy, nutritional counseling, and exercise opportunities are included in our plans of care.
For information on outpatient services call at the Debra Simon Center for Integrative Behavioral Health and Wellness call 551-996-4450.
Our Inpatient Psychiatric unit provides acute comprehensive hospital treatment for adult to geriatric patients who are unable to remain at home or in the community. We also provide care to our Medical-surgical psychiatric patient population. Each patient will be assessed for appropriateness to our unit based upon the needs of the patient and services provided by our interdisciplinary staff of behavioral health experts.
The purpose of our 24 bed voluntary medical surgical psychiatric unit is to provide intensive, caring treatment of patients who cannot receive such treatment in the community or at home, owing to the severity of their psychiatric illness. The goal is always to maximize healthy responses and return the patient to their home setting in the community, as quickly as possible. Guidelines, structure and many opportunities for therapeutic exploration of critical issues are made available, with the patient’s family/significant others, as well as the expert administration and close monitoring of medication administration. Hospitalization, however, is viewed as only one link in the chain of services available to patients and their families at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Patients may enter the system via a variety of means – through the Emergency Department, the Consultation Liaison Service, our Outpatient Division, attending physician’s office or other hospitals. Once in the system, patients and their families may access a spectrum of services, specifically tailored to meet their individualized needs. The medical, nursing, social work, activities staff and assistive personnel practice in a true interdisciplinary manner in order to best meet the needs of each patient. Linkages are forged with key departments to result in a successful outcome for patients and families alike and to assure a continuum of care.
We were recognized as the second care facility in the country to achieve a Joint Commission Certification in Depression and as such, are a nationally recognized center of excellence in the care of depressed patients.
For information on inpatient services call 551-996-2446.
Range of Services
The Debra Simon Center of Integrative Behavioral Health & Wellness offers a full range of diagnosis and treatment services, including psychiatric evaluations, medication management, on-one-on counseling, family counseling, group therapy, nutrition/supplements and exercise, including:
- Anxiety/panic disorders
- Psychotic Disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Anger Management
- Family and Marital Counseling
Patient Care Services & Leadership: Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
Psychiatry & Behavioral Medicine
Dr. Magdalena Spariosu is Interim Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. She is board certified in Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Brain Injury Medicine.
Your Behavioral Health Team
Mental Health Resources
Olga Elkind, MSW, LCSW
Mrs. Elkind is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the Debra Simon Center of Integrative Behavioral Health and Wellness – part of the Hackensack Meridian Health. Her current focus and passion is on providing individual psychotherapy to children and adolescents. Mrs. Elkind graduated from NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in 2008 with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work.
Mrs. Elkind has diversified her experience with children, adolescents and adults allowing her to effectively understand and compassionately support her patients and families. During her time at the Jewish Child Care Association, she provided individual and group psychotherapy to children in foster care. Mrs. Elkind supported the adult community through several roles including working for the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged as a Supreme Court Appointed Guardian for the mentally incapacitated adults and New York Presbyterian Hospital of Columbia and Cornell helping patients and families requiring acute rehabilitation services due to complex medical diagnosis. In addition, Mrs. Elkind was affiliated with the Bellevue Hospital Center where she received certification as a Certified Rape Crisis Advocate.
Mrs. Elkind’s professional experience at Hackensack Meridian Health began in July 2013 in the Social Services Department. Mrs. Elkind is bilingual in English and Russian and she is a Certified Rape Crisis Advocate and Article 81 Certified Guardian for the State of New York. In her free time Mrs. Elkind enjoys spending time with her family, painting, pilates and yoga. For more information about her or to schedule an appointment, please call 551-996-4450.
Bonnie Freirich, LCSW
Bonnie is a LCSW psychotherapist at the Debra Simon Center of Integrative Behavioral Health and Wellness. She specializes in working with young adults, adults and seniors to treat depression, anxiety, student/caregiver/professional stress, chronic pain and adjustment issues. She is also passionate about encouraging and supporting girl power for tweens and teens. Her clinical approach is eclectic and individualized to each individual and includes the use of mindfulness based stress reduction, cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems therapy and energy psychology. Depending on a patients interests, she may add gentle movement, meditation, creativity and when appropriate spirituality. One of her strengths is to empower individuals to create ‘tool boxes of self-care’ that assist in increasing self-awareness, becoming unstuck, creating conscious choices and actions and increasing well-being. She is also a very skilled and compassionate group facilitator who has been offering innovative and effective therapy groups to adolescents, adults and seniors over the past several years at the Wellness Center.
Bonnie brings experience and expertise from the past 35 years in the field of social work. She is a graduate from the NYU Silver School of Social Work and earned a MSW degree in clinical social work. In her free time, Bonnie loves to spend time in nature, swim, practice yoga, enjoy music and spend time with loved ones. For more information on her clinical services or to schedule an appointment, please call 551-996-4450.
Sandra Gaukdner, APN
Sandra Gauker MS, RN, APN, C. is an advanced practice nurse at the Debra Simon Center of Integrative Behavioral Health and Wellness. Ms. Gauker completed her undergraduate work at Adelphi University and her graduate work at Rutgers University. She has a background in medical surgical nursing and in rehabilitation. She began her career helping people with medical illness to achieve their highest level of wellness. In addition to learning how to live with physical illness, Ms. Gauker assists patients though client-centered therapy and uses Carl Rogers Reflection techniques in the process to heal.
Ms. Gauker believes in the importance of providing an empathetic therapeutic environment in which the person can learn to identify goals, cope with problems and develop healthy interpersonal relationships and to develop mental wellness. Sandra Gauker RN, APN, C. assists clients to manage anxiety, depression and interpersonal relationships. She also assists clients who live with chronic illness to help them achieve their highest level of wellness. Ms. Gauker provides person-centered therapy, a positive holding environment and includes cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness techniques in her practice. She also provides psychiatric evaluations and medication management.
In her free time, Ms. Gauker enjoys music, theater, reading and being with family. For more information on her clinical services or to schedule an appointment, please call 551-996-4450.
Minsun Lee, Ph.D.
Dr. Minsun Lee is a licensed psychologist at the Debra Simon Center of Integrative Behavioral Health and Wellness. Dr. Lee obtained her Ph.D. in the APA-accredited Counseling Psychology program at the University at Albany – SUNY, completed her APA-accredited pre-doctoral internship at the Albany Psychology Consortium, and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Albany Medical Center. After completing her training, Dr. Lee worked as faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Albany Medical Center. She then worked as an Assistant Professor in the Counseling Psychology program at Seton Hall University, training doctoral students in research and clinical work. She also had a program of research focused on bicultural identity and racial/cultural factors in psychotherapy process. Dr. Lee joined Hackensack University Medical Center in June 2019. Dr. Lee has expertise in psychodynamic treatment, particularly Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy, treating patients with emotion regulation difficulties and relational issues. She also specializes in seeing couples and families. Dr. Lee values the therapeutic relationship and believes that the relationship itself can be a healing factor in therapy. She provides a safe environment within the relationship, so that patients can practice new ways of relating to others within the safety of the therapeutic relationship. Dr. Lee is a lover of literature and enjoys reading in her free time. For more information about her or to schedule an appointment, please call 551-996-4450.
Yeraz Markarian, Ph.D.
Dr. Yeraz Markarian is a licensed clinical psychologist and Director of the Division of Psychology at the Debra Simon Center of Integrative Behavioral Health and Wellness – part of the Hackensack Meridian Health. Dr. Markarian offers evidence-based psychotherapy for adults, adolescents, and parents. She offers a warm, empathic approach while teaching concrete skills that can help patients reduce distress, cope with problems, solve life challenges, and work towards creating a more balanced life by accomplishing personal goals. Her clinical expertise is in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and a cluster of symptoms that can often include suicidal thinking, self-injury, impulsive behavior, difficulty concentrating or explaining why one gets upset, eating issues, or substance abuse. Dr. Markarian supervises treatment providers in conducting Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy and spearheads a nationwide training program with colleagues at Mount Sinai and City of Hope in teaching evidence-based skills to clinicians and practitioners.
Dr. Markarian completed her undergraduate work at Columbia University, and received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fordham University where she was given numerous awards for her academic excellence. Dr. Markarian received additional training at Bellevue Hospital, NYU’s World Trade Center Program, and Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Markarian is fluent in English and Armenian. In her spare time, Dr. Markarian loves outdoor nature sports, and enjoys live theater and music. For more information about her or to schedule an appointment, please call 551-996-4450.
Freda Martin, LCSW
Freda has many years of experience in the mental health field with a specialty in medical psychology, assisting people to enjoy their lives regardless of their medical comorbidities. For the past 17 years she worked as a Certified Clinical Transplant Social Worker in the Department of Organ Transplantation at Hackensack Meridian Health.
Freda uses an eclectic approach incorporating various modalities, helping people achieve self-awareness, understanding the influences of the past on present approaches to life experiences and relationships. Freda also uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques (CBT), to help people make positive changes in how their thoughts and feelings impact behavior patterns. These techniques, either in individual or group therapy, help people resolve feelings that may interfere with daily functioning and enjoyment such as anxiety, depression, PTSD and bereavement.
Freda’s style includes forming a partnership with her patients, working on redefining themselves and returning to life. For more information about her or to schedule an appointment, please call 551-996-4450.