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June 5, 2014

Psych services begins change

(Continued)

Brenner said in situations when someone is threatening to injure themselves or others, callers should dial the 911 emergency number.

MCAT has hired two of six employees for the local program, said Susan Matt, director of community services for Otsego County, and interviews and background checks continue. Hotline calls will be answered by staff at the Neighborhood Center in Utica, which manages the MCAT program, she said.

Last year, Bassett reduced its inpatient psychiatric unit from 20 to 10 beds. In April, faced with staffing issues, including a national shortage of psychiatrists, it announced closure plans.

The Office of Mental Health received Bassett’s application April 7, Benjamin Rosen, director of public information for the state office said.

Under OMH regulations, Bassett’s request is subject to a 20-business-day review, according to Rosen. The process allows for clarification of key issues, for more information to be requested and for a coordinated planning process regarding the application, among other steps.

After findings and recommendations are received from the reviewing parties, an application also must be studied by the state Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council and approved by the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health.

“We have been answering their questions and providing detailed information regarding the provision of mental health care in the region if the closure plan were to be accepted,” Karen Huxtable, medical center spokeswoman, said in an email Tuesday.

Bassett’s Psychiatric Crisis Center was a place for individuals experiencing a mental health emergency, Huxtable said, and staff in the center not only provided an assessment of the individual but also linkages to community resources, such as outpatient care and referrals to social services for help, such as with housing.

The MCAT program will provide those services, she said.

“While our crisis center is closing, the emergency department staff can still accept mental health emergencies and assess whether the individual needs hospitalization or can be discharged with follow-up outpatient care,” Huxtable said. A patient needing to be hospitalized could be admitted to Bassett if a bed were available, she said.

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