Federal and State Partnership Seeks to Increase Awareness, Provide Greater Access to Care
SYRACUSE, NY – U.S. Congressman John Katko (NY-24) and New York State Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli (129th District) today announced the creation of a six-month task force to address gaps in pediatric mental health care in Central New York.
Central New York currently lacks a sufficiently integrated system for child and adolescent mental health inpatient and outpatient services. Commercial insurance companies typically require out-of-network approval for admission to Hutchings Psychiatric Center, the only local inpatient facility equipped to handle adolescent mental healthcare in Central New York. This forces some local families to travel to treatment centers in Auburn, Utica, Saratoga, or even outside of New York State to receive adequate care.
“I’ve made it a priority to start a dialogue on strengthening access to pediatric mental health care in Central New York, and I’m proud to partner with Assemblyman Magnarelli and our many local service providers and advocates to start this conversation, “said Rep. John Katko. “Because of discontinuities and other gaps in the care system, young people in our area do not always receive the best available care. In order to treat and build better lives for the hundreds of Central New York families whose lives are impacted by mental illness and substance abuse, we need real and early intervention solutions in our psychiatric care centers, in our schools, and in our community.”
Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli said, “I’m happy to partner with Congressman Katko on this serious issue. Families in Central New York should not be forced to send their child hours away to get the proper mental health care. These families are already in crisis, and the lack of local treatment options only compounds their stress. I hope that beginning this dialogue with Federal, State and local stakeholders will lead to better youth mental health treatment options in the region. I look forward to working on this problem and finding solutions in the months ahead.”
The Task Force, made up of local mental health and substance use disorder treatment providers, leaders from the Syracuse affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), grassroots health care organizations and advocates, Central New York hospitals, and local government officials, is tasked with assessing and improving local pediatric mental health care services.
Members of the Mental Health/Behavioral Health Task Force include:
- Gina Atkins, RN, Associate Administrator for Behavioral Services for Oswego Health
- Ray Bizarri, Director of Social Services for Cayuga County
- Mark Cattalani, M.D., Executive Director of Hutchings Psychiatric Center
- Robert Gregory, M.D., Professor & Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Studies at SUNY Upstate Medical University
- Mary Anne Kelley, Local Advocate
- Jamie Leszczynski, SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) CNY
- Linda McAleer, RN, Director of Nursing, Pediatrics, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital
- Tom McKeown, Executive Director of ARISE
- Mark Murphy, RN, NP, Senior Vice President for System Development and Ambulatory Care Leadership at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center
- Mary Jane O’Connor, Family Tapestry
- Sherie Ramsgard, MSN, NPP, Local Practitioner, and owner of Whole Mental Wellness
- Ann Rooney, Deputy Onondaga County Executive for Human Services
- Karen Winters Schwartz, President, NAMI Syracuse
- Glady Smith, New York State Office of Mental Health
- Monika Taylor, LCSW, CASAC, Director of Behavioral Health for Crouse Hospital
The six-month Task Force will meet biweekly and present a report of its findings, including suggestions for providing greater access to families and patients who seek ongoing treatment, by September 2015.