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April 10, 2014

Bassett to close psychiatric unit

(Continued)

With Office of Mental Health approval of the closure plan pending, patients in Bassett’s inpatient psychiatry unit will remain until they are ready for discharge, the release said. Patients needing longer-term services will be transferred to another psychiatric facility. Options include facilities in Binghamton, Schenectady and Utica.

Bassett’s emergency department still will be able to accept patients experiencing emergency mental health issues, the release said. However, patients needing hospitalization will be transferred to a facility able to accept them.

Bassett will continue to offer outpatient mental health care, the release said, and to pursue additional psychiatric services through Vital Access Provider funding and programs eligible under the pending Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program.

In 2007, A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta closed its 28-bed psychiatric unit because of a shortage of psychiatrists and increased costs. Bassett opened its crisis unit in February 2008.

Under the Mobil Crisis Assessment Team system, three team members would be in Otsego County and one each in Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties, Matt said, and coverage would be flexible depending on needs in the area.

Otsego County won’t be paying for the MCAT and other local services, Matt said. The state Office of Mental Health has provided about $1.2 million annual to Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties for services, she said, and the local programs are funded through that pool.

MCAT, which is part of the Neighborhood Center Inc. in Utica, was to start July 1 but will start sooner based on when the Bassett unit closes, Matt said. Health care officials found out Thursday that the Bassett unit would be closing, she said.

Matt acknowledged that law enforcement agencies, ambulances and other transporters will have to travel farther to take patients to hospitals, she said.

But with MCAT and the implementation of local services, she said, the goal is to identify needs early, make referrals to community-based resources and intervene before a development of a crisis. The Oneonta Police Department does “a great job” with mental health calls, according to Matt, who said she has talked with Brenner about “constant communication” options and resources. 

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