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State Office of Mental Health releases regional centers of excellence plan to transform public mental health system

by jmaloni

Press release

Thu, Jul 11th 2013 03:25 pm

Plan developed following more than two months of state-wide listening tours and more than 2,000 public comments

The New York State Office of Mental Health has released a three-year plan to transform the public mental health system. Under the plan, OMH will shift the emphasis of its resources from costly long-term inpatient treatment provided at more than 24 hospitals to a state-of-the-art network of 15 regional centers of excellence. The regional centers of excellence plan was developed after OMH met with more than 30 communities throughout the state and received more than 2,000 public comments.

"The time has come to fundamentally change the way we think about mental health in New York state," said Office of Mental Health Acting Commissioner Kristin M. Woodlock. "Working together with communities, we can and will change the outdated and costly way we serve individuals with mental illness. It is not an option to let outside forces define what our health care system will look like. As New Yorkers, we are courageous and determined to take the lead in moving our behavioral health system towards excellence."

Organizers said each regional center will offer the finest, highly specialized inpatient treatment available for those with the most serious forms of mental illness and will bring behavioral health services into line with other regionalized health care resources throughout the state. In addition to providing inpatient care at the regional center's primary location, multiple community service hubs will be available throughout each region. OMH will operate an expanded and intensive array of community-based treatment, support and care monitoring based on local needs.

An important part of the regional centers of excellence plan is ensuring continuity of employment for the staff of facilities affected by reorganization. To do so, the Office of Mental Health will:

•Transform inpatient positions into local community-based positions.

•Transfer continuing inpatient positions to the regional center of excellence where inpatient services will be located.

•Prioritize voluntary transfer of current employees to vacant positions with the OMH system.

•Offer transfer to other state agencies.

•Retrain impacted OMH employees for alternative state employment.

The plan spans a three-year time frame. A multi-year plan provides needed time for community-level planning and priority setting, staff training as well as establishment of support services in the community. Predictability and future vision will help to align the resources needed to achieve the intended outcomes from regional centers of excellence.

In the next three years, OMH will establish 15 regional centers of excellence across the state. Each RCE will have a specialized inpatient hospital program located at its center with a network of state-operated, community-based services operating throughout their region. A community service "hub" will be located in geographically distinct areas of the region.

Over the past few months, the New York State Office of Mental Health met with more than 30 communities, members of the Legislature and labor unions to explain the forces of change that are upon the mental health system. During the listening tour, OMH shared its vision to strategically position OMH for the future. Thousands of comments were received, which have been essential to the formation of this plan and will guide us in its implementation. New Yorkers registered excitement about the future and concerns about access to service, gaps in the system, employment and impact of decommissioning buildings upon cities. 

The release of this plan, coupled with the required legislative notice of significant service reduction, consolidation or closure, marks the start of a multi-year transformation. Regional implementation priorities and work plans will begin to be established in August with the formation of RCE teams. Implementation will commence in July 2014.

To view the Office of Mental Health regional center of excellence plan, visit: http://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/excellence/rce/index.html.

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