Albany, NY- The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) Wednesday released a three-year plan to transform the public mental health system. Under the Plan, OMH will shift the emphasis of its resources from long term inpatient treatment provided at over 24 hospitals to a state-of-the-art network of 15 Regional Centers of Excellence. The Regional Centers of Excellence Plan was developed after OMH met with over 30 communities throughout the state and received over 2,000 public comments.

The only two centers in the Hudson Valley will both be housed at the Orangeburg psychiatric facility in Rockland County: the Nathan Kline Research Center of Excellence and the Lower Hudson Regional Center of Excellence.

“The time has come to fundamentally change the way we think about mental health in New York State,” Office of Mental Health Acting Commissioner Kristin M. Woodlock said. “Working together with communities, we can and will change the outdated and costly way we serve individuals with mental illness. It is not an option to let outside forces define what our health care system will look like. As New Yorkers, we are courageous and determined to take the lead in moving our behavioral health system towards excellence.”

Each Regional Center will offer the finest, highly specialized inpatient treatment available for those with the most serious forms of mental illness and will bring behavioral health services into line with other regionalized healthcare resources throughout the state. In addition to providing inpatient care at the Regional Center’s primary location, multiple community service hubs will be available throughout each region. OMH will operate an expanded and intensive array of community based treatment, support and care monitoring based on local needs.

An important part of the Regional Centers of Excellence Plan is ensuring continuity of employment for the staff of facilities affected by reorganization. To do so, the Office of Mental Health will:

• Transform inpatient positions into local community-based positions.

• Transfer continuing inpatient positions to the Regional Center of Excellence where inpatient services will be located.

• Prioritize voluntary transfer of current employees to vacant positions with the OMH system.

• Offer transfer to other state agencies.

• Retrain impacted OMH employees for alternative state employment.

The Plan spans a three-year time frame. A multi-year plan provides needed time for community-level planning and priority setting, staff training as well as establishment of support services in the community. Predictability and future vision will help to align the resources needed to achieve the intended outcomes from Regional Centers of Excellence.

In the next three years, OMH will establish fifteen (15) Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) across the state. Each RCE will have a specialized inpatient hospital program located at its center with a network of state-operated community-based services operating throughout their region. A community service “hub” will be located in geographically distinct areas of the region.

“I am absolutely thrilled that OMH has decided to base part of its regional operations right here in Rockland County,” said Senator Carlucci. “This is also a huge win for the people of the Hudson Valley living with mental illness and their families who depend upon quality care and treatment. I can think of no more fitting place better suited to meet the needs and the mission of the Regional Centers of Excellence.”

The CSEA sharply criticized Gov. Cuomo’s proposal. “There is nothing of excellence in Governor Cuomo’s proposal to close psychiatric centers, leave seriously ill people without the help they need and dump more unfunded mandates on local taxpayers,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. Cuomo’s proposal renames remaining state psychiatric facilities as Centers of Excellence. “Once again, the Cuomo administration is purposely misleading the public about the impact of his policies by packaging his proposal with a nice sounding name without providing any real detail about how services will be provided or supported.”

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