Dutchess County and WMCHealth partner to improve mental health services

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Dutchess County Behavioral Health Deputy Commissioner Jean Marie Niebuhr, County Executive Marc Molinaro, with WMC Health representatives announcing the new Center.

TOWN OF POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and WMCHealth executives on Tuesday announced plans to create a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at MidHudson Regional Hospital (MHRH), in a public-private partnership.

Molinaro pledged $3 million of county funds to support the joint venture that will add 20 in-patient beds designated for mental health services in Dutchess County. The new venture will bring the total number of in-patient beds at MHRH to 60.

Joshua Ratner, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Westchester Medical Center Health Network

The “Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at MidHudson Regional Hospital” will provide a high-quality standard of care for behavioral health patients in Dutchess County and surrounding areas, according to hospital officials.  The funding provided by the county will facilitate updates to MidHudson Regional Hospital’s inpatient behavioral health units, including shared community spaces and nursing stations in these areas, in order to enhance the healing environment while prioritizing a safe environment for patients and workforce members.

“Dutchess County has long prioritized the importance of mental health, and the forthcoming Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at MidHudson Regional Hospital represents Dutchess County’s latest commitment – an unprecedented dedication of funding, resources, and staff, unlike any seen anywhere else in the Hudson Valley – to ensure those living with mental health issues receive the compassionate care they deserve, close to home,” said Molinaro. “This new center, the result of an extraordinary public-private partnership, will not only change lives, it will save them,” he added while calling the venture a “life-saving collaboration” that is “not a traditional hospital psychiatric wing.”

“Creating a Center of Excellence to address the community’s behavioral health needs will benefit Dutchess County tremendously and complement our work throughout the Hudson Valley to deliver quality behavioral health care while expanding and enhancing these vital services in the communities we serve,” said Michael Israel, president, and CEO, WMCHealth.

As part of this new expanded approach, WMCHealth and Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health will partner to embed county staff at the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at MidHudson Regional Hospital. This is designed to facilitate a seamless transition for discharged patients to continue their recovery by utilizing the extensive behavioral health programs available throughout the county.   WMCHealth Executive Vice-president Joshua Ratner called the new center “a model for the United States” for addressing mental wellness.

Twenty inpatient mental health beds will be located in the expanded HealthAlliance Hospital on Mary’s Avenue in Kingston were announced in May of this year. 

The plan to expand the number of inpatient units to create a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at MidHudson Regional Hospital requires approval by the State Department of Health and State Office of Mental Health, after which the WMCHealth will work to finalize the design and planning for the renovations.

Construction on the project will be done in phases to avoid temporarily taking a significant number of crucial inpatient behavioral health beds offline for an extended period. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in late 2023.