WMCHealth adding mental health beds in Dutchess Co; Ulster officials press for return of lost inpatient services
Patricia R. Doxsey is reporting for the Daily Freeman the WMCHealth Network is increasing the number of inpatient mental health beds in Dutchess County, two years after shutting down those same services in Ulster. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro announced on April 20, as part of his State of the County address, the county will partner with the Westchester Medical Center Health Network to create a Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health in Dutchess County. The county will commit $3 million to the project, which includes the creation of new inpatient psychiatric beds at MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie. The hospital has also committed to adding 60 new staff members to serve Dutchess and Ulster counties. WMCHealth is the parent company of HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley and it runs hospitals in Kingston and Delaware County. In a statement on April 21, Westchester Medical Center said the funding from Dutchess County “will help us expand and enhance behavioral health services both in the county and throughout the region.” WMC said the number of beds to be created and a timeframe for the increased services are still being determined. The 2020 decision by WMCHealth to eliminate its 50-bed inpatient mental health unit in Kingston infuriated community leaders and elected officials who have pressured the state to force the network to reinstate those beds. State Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, who represents Kingston, applauded Dutchess County's efforts to increase services to its residents, but said that partnership should not let the hospital off the hook for its obligation to Ulster. “...[U]nless and until there is [a] restoration of the full inpatient behavior health unit on a Kingston campus, Westchester Medical Center and Health Alliance of the Hudson Valley are in serious violation of the terms of their license to operate a facility in Ulster County,..." Cahill said. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said despite the announcement, he will continue to fight for the return of inpatient beds to Ulster County. “We need these beds in Ulster County,” he said. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.