WGXC-90.7 FM

NYS to establish behavioral health stabilization centers

Feb 11, 2021 1:30 pm

Amanda Fries is reporting for the Times Union Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has included in his executive budget proposal a plan to launch Behavioral Health Stabilization centers throughout New York, similar to the model established in Dutchess County. The county opened its stabilization center in 2017, to provide services for people in crisis. Officials hoped the 24-hour drop-in center would reduce the county’s jail population as well as avoidable hospital visits. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said the county has seen success. Since the center opened, the county jail population has declined 40 percent, and that was before bail reforms were implemented, he said. “There was a noticeable reduction in emergency room visits as well that we think is important. The emergency room and jail are the least effective tools to help someone in a mental health crisis," Molinaro said. The Dutchess County center relies solely on taxpayer funds to run — at a cost of $1.7 million a year and provides services for individuals who want to get sober or need a respite from their home for a period of time, connecting them to the right resources to help with the situation. The center partners with various service providers in the community to ensure ease of access and delivery of services. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said he first learned of the state’s plans for stabilization centers following the county’s announcement of a pilot program to have social workers and sheriff’s EMS workers respond to mental health, addiction and other nonviolent 911 calls. Apple said a one-stop-shop for residents experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis would be a welcome resource in the Capital Region. He said there is a dire need for the service. Under the executive budget proposal, the centers would operate year-round and accept admissions at all hours without a referral, including drop-offs by law enforcement and other first responders. How the state plans to roll out the initiative remains unclear. State officials have not said how much would be budgeted for the initiative, how many centers would be created, or if the centers would actually model the one in Dutchess County. Read the full story in the Times Union.