Harvy Rosenthal, executive director of the Albany-based New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, a group that advocates for the needs of New Yorkers with mental illness, said he hopes Bassett “explores all possible strategies” for keeping the psychiatric beds available.
The hospital, Rosenthal added, could also lessen the potential negative consequences for psychiatric patients by strengthening the services it offers to outpatients that the psychiatric unit treats. By doing so, he said, it could avoid “leaving a huge gap in what’s available to people in that area.”
Said Huxtable-Hooker: “We are looking to strengthen and expand outpatient services whatever the final inpatient solution, and OMH is aware of this.”
The Bassett officials said the plan to reduce the number of psychiatric beds at the private not-for profit medical center in Cooperstown is unrelated to the state’s ongoing reorganization of state-operated psychiatric hospitals.
That consolidation effort is part of the state Centers for Excellence Program. The consolidation plan would be phased in over three years, and what are now 24 state run psychiatric hospitals would be reduced to 15 regional centers . Among the hospitals that would be affected are Greater Binghamton Psychiatric Center, Elmira Psychiatric Center, Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center in Utica and Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse.
Rosenthal estimated that there are between 600,000 and 700,000 New Yorkers coping with varying degrees of mental illness. Of that group, about 140,000 people have “the most serious needs,” he said.