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Office of Mental Health: More than $199,000 in new funding for Orleans and Niagara counties

by jmaloni

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Mon, Sep 15th 2014 04:35 pm

Funding associated with closure of Medina Memorial Hospital's behavioral health unit

The New York State Office of Mental Health, in accordance with the 2014-15 enacted state budget, has allocated $199,030 for the expansion of crisis services in Orleans and Niagara counties. This funding will enable the counties to enrich their mental health services, with a focus on crisis and mobile services, to prevent avoidable inpatient admissions and ensure individuals have access to appropriate community-based services and supports.

In late 2013, Medina Memorial Hospital closed its behavioral health unit due largely to fiscal concerns. As part of the 2014-15 state budget process, OMH and the New York State Department of Health proposed reinvestment of Medicaid savings associated with the reduction of available inpatient mental health beds at Medina Memorial Hospital. This approved reinvestment reflects collaborative planning between OMH, DOH, Orleans and Niagara counties, and local mental health service providers.

"These services will enable New Yorkers to find the help they need closer to home," said Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan, commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health. "The Office of Mental Health is dedicated to ensuring critical access to behavioral health care throughout New York state. In order to improve this comprehensive continuum of services for individuals with serious mental illness, Orleans and Niagara counties are expanding their crisis resources and enhancing the system of care throughout the region."

"Providing New Yorkers with the appropriate community-based behavioral health care services is a priority for the Department of Health," said Dr. Howard Zucker, acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Health. "We are reinvesting the savings from the closure of the behavioral health unit at Medina Memorial in ways that will enhance mental health services. Access to care right in your community is important both to the person affected and to his or her family."

"The loss of inpatient beds at Medina Hospital was a challenge for Orleans County. The Office of Mental Health was very proactive in advocating for a reinvestment of resources into the community to help bolster the behavioral health safety net," said Mark O'Brien, director of the Orleans County Department of Mental Health. "Under their leadership, we worked with our provider partners to create the first mobile mental health crisis team that will serve Orleans County starting in October. In combination with the crisis apartments, the opportunity to increase stabilization in the community, reduce the use of expensive emergency department and inpatient stays, and lower costs makes for a win-win situation."

The New York State Office of Mental Health and the New York State Department of Health are funding the following services in relation to the closure of Medina Memorial Hospital's inpatient psychiatric unit:

•Orleans County - $131,000 for enhancement of the county's crisis response capabilities, including: expanded crisis assessment, establishment of a "Family Assistance Crisis Team," or "FACT," and new crisis apartments.

•Niagara County - $68,030 for the hiring of a mental hygiene practitioner to cover high-volume late afternoon and evening crisis calls and provide follow-up and linkage to community services.

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