Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Haledon Doctor Lawrence Barnet Dies; Champion of Disabled Patients

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Haledon Doctor Lawrence Barnet Dies; Champion of Disabled Patients

Article excerpt

Dr. Lawrence Barnet, who was lauded for providing care to people with mental and developmental disabilities -- and for whom a Pompton Lakes group home is named -- died Tuesday. He was 79.

The cause was cancer, the family said. Barnet, an internist and gastroenterologist, resided in Franklin Lakes and practiced in Haledon alongside his wife, Liz, who was his nurse and office manager.

"Dr. Barnet had a kind of magic about him," said Scott Milliken, executive director of the Department for Persons with Disabilities, a Catholic Charities agency in the Diocese of Paterson. "He made his patients, even those who were uncommunicative, understand that everything was going to be OK."

The DPD, established in 1965, provides a range of services to adults with disabilities in Passaic, Morris and Sussex counties and operates nine group homes.

The vast majority of its clients received treatment at one time or another from Barnet, for everything from stomach ills to psychiatric issues.

His affiliation with the agency spanned more than 35 years, representing thousands of office visits and house calls.

"The folks we care for collectively have over 155 different diagnoses, which can be trying, and over the years there has been a transition in thought to how to care for people with disabilities," Milliken said. "A lot of people would want to institutionalize our folks, but we feel they should be treated with dignity and respect, and Dr. Barnet stood for that. He saved the lives of so many of our people."

Milliken recalled one patient, new to the DPD, who was terribly afraid of doctors and needles but needed a shot. "The patient was in Dr. Barnet's office for two hours, and Dr. Barnet's thinking was, 'When he's ready, we'll give him the shot.' Milliken said. "He took the individual's comfort level into account, was able to slowly approach the patient to administer the medicine -- and got the job done. From that day on, the patient was OK with Dr. Barnet."

In 2006, the agency dedicated its ninth group home, on Lenox Avenue in Pompton Lakes, as Barnet House. …

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