Cahill calls for mental health unit to be restored, expanded in Kingston – The Daily Freeman

Posted: May 26, 2020 at 6:46 pm

This post was added by Alex Diaz-Granados

KINGSTON, N.Y. A state assemblyman from Kingston says not only should a mental health unit be restored at a Marys Avenue hospital it should expand its services.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, says that he has reached out to Westchester Medical Center Health Network telling them the behavioral health unit should be restored at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley hospital.

The healthcare provider is the parent company of HealthAllince. The mental health unit has been moved to the Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie.

My office and I have been in contact with both HealthAlliance and Westchester Medical Center on this issue, said Cahill, who represents the 103rd Assembly District. We registered our view and that of the many constituents who contacted our office that Kingston campus services be restored and expanded.

Cahill said that he and Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan and have discussed joint efforts to work with the hospital operators and, if necessary, others in order to bring those services back to our community.

To many, it is quite literally, a lifeline, Cahill said of families with relatives and individuals served by the local mental health unit.

Cahill is among political leaders including Ryan and state Senator Jen Metzger, D-Rosendale, who are pushing for the units restoration, at the former Benedictine Hospital.

On Saturday, both Ryan and Metzger said that the health care providers want to make the move permanent to the Mid-Hudson Valley Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie. Both said the unit should be restored to the Marys Avenue facility.

Ryan has written to Michael Israel, chief executive officer and president of Westchester Medical Center Health Network, requesting a meeting about the matter.

Westchester Medical Center Health Network and HealthAlliance moved the mental health service unit for which there were a total of 60 beds from Kingston to WMCHealths MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie early in the COVID-19 pandemic. It cited the need for the Marys Avenue building to become "a surge hospital under a plan announced by Governor Cuomo.

On Tuesday, Westchester Medical Center Health Network responded to a query about the calls to restore the mental health unit by, among other things, reiterating the reason for the relocation given Cuomos edict.

The traditional access point in Ulster County for people in need of inpatient behavioral health services has not changed and is still through the HealthAlliance Emergency Department at the Broadway campus, a statement reads. The majority of these patients are treated and released with follow-up services in Ulster County.

"While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Marys Avenue remains vacated so that, in cooperation with New York State and Ulster County, we are positioned to address any future healthcare needs related to COVID-19," the statement reads.

The statement, similar to one issued earlier when queried by the Daily Freeman earlier this month, said the mental health unit was temporarily moved.

Patients who require inpatient substance use disorder services can be treated at HealthAlliance Hospital: Broadway Campus or transferred to MidHudson Regional Hospital; patients requiring inpatient mental health services are currently transferred by ambulance to MidHudson Regional Hospital or other available options within WMCHealth, the statement said. In fact, currently the vast majority of substance use disorder patients are admitted to the Broadway campus and remain in Kingston.

We continue to collaborate with Ulster County and our service partners and will be meeting with all stakeholders on expanding outpatient mental health services in Ulster County to improve recidivism rates, keep people healthy and reduce patient readmissions, the company said. We will be sharing more information about these services in the coming weeks and months.

WMCHealth previously said the relocation of the services to Poughkeepsie would be temporary. Metzger, however, in a letter to HealthAlliance Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Doyle, said HealthAlliance is seeking to make these changes permanent.

I intend to continue to be in touch with WMC and HAHV as well as pursuing other possible avenues and will continue our efforts to restore and improve those services, Cahill said.

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Cahill calls for mental health unit to be restored, expanded in Kingston - The Daily Freeman

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