A key switch in mental health services in the four-county area took effect last weekend.
The Mobile Crisis Assessment Team staff started handling crisis calls Sunday, officials said, and the Bassett Medical Center crisis center, which is an extension of its emergency department, is set to close.
Bassett’s 10-bed inpatient psychiatric unit in Cooperstown remains open pending review by the state Office of Mental Health of an application for its closure, officials said.
Meanwhile, the transition is gearing up for the MCAT program to provide mental health services that providers said they hope will reduce hospitalizations and offer more community-based care.
A primary step is publicizing that Bassett’s Psychiatric Crisis Center hot-line number, (877) 369-6699, will remain in service but be answered by MCAT staff, officials said. Or callers may dial (844) 732-6228 to reach MCAT directly.
MCAT staff will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Services include mental health assessment, de-escalation and debriefing of crisis situations, referrals and follow-up services.
In the local MCAT model, three team members will be in Otsego County and one each will be in Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties. The state Office of Mental Health will provide $1.2 million annually to the counties for the program, which won’t draw on local dollars, officials said.
The Oneonta Police Department last year reported a trend of more calls involving mental health issues, including some cases resulting in transporting patients to a hospital for psychiatric treatment. Police have expressed concern about increased demands on the department if and when the Bassett inpatient psychiatric unit closes because patients will have to be taken to facilities outside the area.
With initiation of the MCAT coverage, some logistics remain to be worked out, which may not be realized until the program is implemented, city police Lt. Douglas Brenner said Wednesday.