Release: Consumers Say Their Recovery Must Be Focus of NYS Mental Health Services Redesign

NYAPRS Note: New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities will take the stage at an Albany news conference this morning to underscore that NYS mental health redesign should “first and foremost” be in synch with their concerns and needs and reflective of their input. While other groups like state unions will and should weigh in, the people for whom these services are developed should have the greatest say in how and where jobs and services are redeployed.


N E W S     R E L E A S E


Consumer Advocates Tell Policy Makers, Public:

Focus of State Mental Health Services Redesign

Must Be on Promoting our Recovery in the Community


12 Noon Today   LCA Room 130

Glenn Liebman, MHANYS 518-360-7916   Briana Gilmore, NYAPRS 860-462-0078


Albany, NY  July 16, 2013


Statewide representatives of New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities offered strong support for newly released state plans to consolidate 24 state hospitals into 15 regional centers and insisted that Office of Mental Health reforms focus on redeploying the workforce and reinvesting mental health dollars to fill the cracks and strengthen community recovery systems of care.


“It has long been very clear that tens of thousands of New Yorkers like me can recover and live full and productive lives in the community, often with assistance from the right mix of modern services and supports,” said Maura Kelley of Buffalo. “The Cuomo Administration plan to reconfigure and reinvest are several steps in the right direction.”


“Redeploying the state workforce and reinvesting the savings to boost the efforts of the nonprofit workforce is a winning strategy that will work in tandem to give us the community system we want and need,” Carla Rabinowitz of New York City agreed.


OMH’s new plan includes a retraining and redeployment of state institutional workers to enhance over 24 state outpatient service ‘hubs.’ Hubs will be expanded in communities that will see inpatient beds close, like Elmira, Rochester and Binghamton.


The advocates said their peers have long sought a full shift to a recovery and community-centered system of care.


“At last, we have a bold plan to modernize our state system and move the resources to where we need them the most,” said Briana Gilmore of Albany.


During the mid-1990’s, legislators approved a plan that closed 5 state hospitals and reinvested $200 million in savings to create critically needed local community services and supports.


Only a few facilities have closed since, they said, and almost none of those savings went into the community expansion that was needed, they said.


“This plan’s commitment to fully reinvest the savings will help ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past,” said Stephanie Orlando of Albany, referring to previous deinstitutionalization efforts that didn’t provide an adequate level of community services. “With public funds being invested back into communities, youth, families and adults should be provided a choice in the supports they receive closer to home.


The advocates spelled out how they thought reinvestment would best be used.


“We know what works... good hospital discharge planning and follow up and more peer support, wellness, housing, employment and crisis supports,” said Rabinowitz.


“Moving the focus of care and public funding into the community is not only the right way to go, it’s what is required under the law,” Kelley pointed out, referring to the Supreme Court’s ‘Olmstead’ requirement that states serve people with disabilities in the most integrated community settings.


“The Olmstead decision indicates that persons with psychiatric disabilities must be served in the least restrictive setting possible,” said Gilmore. “Closing state psychiatric hospitals is only half of the equation. Without adequate reinvestment into recovery oriented, rehabilitative services, people will not be given the option to recover fully in the community.”


The advocates urged the Governor to ensure that New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities have major input into how and where reinvestment dollars were spent.


“I would also like to ask Governor Cuomo to make this process transparent,” said Kathryn Cascio of Albany. “Current and former users of mental health services must be at the table when deciding how to use reinvestment dollars.”


The advocates recognized that many other groups, including state labor unions, will be weighing in on Cuomo’s plan.


“We are the ones for whom these services are developed and we want to make sure that our own concerns and needs are considered first and foremost,” said Kelley.