Senators call for more funding after tour of Dutchess stabilization center

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Senator Harckham at the Dutchess County Stabilization Center

POUGHKEEPSIE – State Senate Mental Health Committee Chair Samra Brouk (D, Rochester) and Senate Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Committee Chair Peter Harckham (D, Mount Kisco) toured the Dutchess County Crisis Stabilization Center on Thursday, highlighting the need for both the expansion of these centers across the state and greater investment overall in mental health and substance abuse services. They were joined by Senators Sue Serino (R, Hyde Park) and Michelle Hinchey (D, Saugerties) as well as Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many different existing crises. Some 93,000 Americans lost their lives to an overdose last year, a 29 increase over the year before. The pandemic dramatically expanded the number of people seeking treatment for depression and anxiety disorders, taxing an already burdened system. 

The tour of that the facility “underscores the need to transform mental health crisis services in New York State so that anyone in need of crisis support has it,” Senator Brouk said.

“It doesn’t have to be a substance use crisis. It doesn’t have to be a mental health crisis. It could be just a crisis you are having on that day and I think one of the things they do well is meeting people where they are and creating space for them to kind of decompress and deescalate,” she said.

Brouk said they look ahead to next year’s budget, she is “committed to fighting for the investments necessary to revolutionize our approach to crisis response and ensure access to care in every community across New York State.”

Senator Harckham stressed the need for more centers like the one in Poughkeepsie.  “The Dutchess County Crisis Stabilization Center begins to offer residents with behavioral health and substance use disorder challenges the help and assistance they need the minute they walk in the door. The State Legislature approved funding for 10 regional crisis centers in last year’s state budget, and I support an even greater state investment in this kind of healthcare infrastructure wherever possible.”

Senator Serino has been a staunch advocate of the Dutchess model and has continued to seek funding for similar facilities. “Mental health is not a partisan issue—it is a human issue—and I sincerely thank Senators Brouk and Harckham for recognizing the important work that is done at the Center.” 

Senator Michelle Hinchey lauded the model and noted that Ulster County is developing plans for their own center using the Dutchess center as the model.  “We have failed our communities with severe disinvestment in mental health and substance abuse services,” she said. Noting that the pandemic created a spike in the need for accessible mental health services, Hinchey, representing Kingston, said the issue is urgent.  WMC HealthAlliance Hospital recently transferred the mental health, detox, and rehabilitation services from the WMC HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston to WMCHealth’s Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie.  “I am incredibly excited that the Ulster County Legislature is stepping up to provide a new crisis stabilization center in Ulster County.” 

Senator Michelle Hinchey

Saugerties Police Chief Joe Sinagra has been lobbying for an Ulster center and lauded the recent step forward.  “I commend the legislature for taking such action. It’s time we start investing in mental health services for the well-being of those in crises and those suffering from mental health issues,” said the chief.  “This is a major step toward ensuring we can provide immediate services for our community members who are in crises. We must continue to build upon this endeavor as this is just one piece of the puzzle in providing adequate services in Ulster County.”

Steve Miccio, CEO of People USA, creator and operator of the Dutchess County Stabilization Center told the senators, “We have designed and implemented a service that utilizes the most engaging, trauma-informed, compassionate, and recovery-oriented care that results in better outcomes for every guest. We are hopeful that this type of care will grow in all communities in New York State.”\

The Dutchess County Crisis Stabilization Center is a direct service that assists with de-escalating the severity of a person’s level of distress and/or need for urgent care associated with a substance use or mental health disorder. Crisis stabilization services are designed to prevent or ameliorate a behavioral health crisis and/or reduce acute symptoms of mental illness and/or substance use by providing continuous 24-hour observation and supervision for persons who do not require inpatient services. Short-term crisis residential stabilization services include a range of community-based resources that can meet the needs of an individual with an acute psychiatric crisis and provide a safe environment for care and recovery.