Rural inpatient psychiatry is a complex, intense and challenging profession, made more so by the shortage of providers, Huxtable said, and many mental health providers prefer an outpatient setting where they see patients over time.
Attracting providers, whether primary care professionals or specialists, to rural areas is easier if they are familiar with living in a geographically isolated region, having grown up or worked in such areas, Huxtable said. With a limited pool of providers, competition to attract staff is fierce and cannot be solved with dollars alone.
Bassett’s crisis unit is an emergency room service, Huxtable said, and Bassett has been paid about $1.2 million a year through the counties which receive funds from the state. These funds, which cover the costs of the program, will go to the “Mobile Crisis Assessment Team” program once the inpatient unit closes and an agreement with the program is in place, she said.
As of Wednesday, Oneonta police answered 63 mental health calls this year, of which 23 have resulted in taking a patient to Bassett, Lt. Douglas Brenner said.