James Plastiras Director of Public Information New York State Office of Mental Health 518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

July 15, 2021

NYS Office of Mental Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University Announce Expansion of Services for Children with Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Issues

The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) and SUNY Upstate Medical University today announced an expansion of services for children who have a developmental disability as well as behavioral health needs. Under the expansion, SUNY Upstate will develop a specialized inpatient unit for children who are dually-diagnosed and will expand the current child and adolescent inpatient bed capacity at OMH’s Hutchings Psychiatric Center. The new specialized dual diagnosis unit will serve children and youth from 12 to 17 years old who are at risk of being separated from their families. SUNY Upstate’s new program will allow for the total capacity to increase from 23 to 29 beds.

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “The establishment and expansion of services will provide us with much-needed dual-diagnosis beds and mental health beds while enhancing the integration of medical and behavioral health care. It will also reduce out-of-state placements for children and youth who are dually diagnosed and at-risk of being separated from their families. This will help reduce the financial burden on the families, reduce trauma to the child and also allow for a focus on family-centered care, which results in much better health outcomes.”

“The opportunity to expand services is the right thing to do for our patients and families and we are grateful for the support and leadership of the New York State Office of Mental Health for helping to make this happen,” said Mantosh Dewan, MD, president of SUNY Upstate Medical University. “SUNY Upstate Medical University has been committed to increasing and strengthening mental health services for this vulnerable adolescent population in a number of ways. Our inpatient mental health unit opened in early 2020 and our Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program began seeing patients in fall. Next year, we will open the State’s first dual diagnosis unit for children. Sadly, these children are currently sent to Rhode Island or Maryland and we are pleased that we will soon be able to provide an exceptional level of care for more families close to home.”

Theodore Kastner, M.D., M.S., Commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, (OPWDD)  "The expansion of inpatient capacity for children and adolescents with dual diagnoses will help fill a pressing need in New York, improving the quality of life for the young people who need these services and their families and caregivers who help support them. This expansion will allow children who have a developmental disability and a mental health diagnosis to get the specialized help they need when they need it."

Paul Joslyn, Executive Director of AccessCNY, said “This expansion will increase access to services for children with a developmental disability who also have a mental health issue, and never has there been a more critical time for this enhancement.  Meeting this need will help keep kids out of the emergency room and connected to more specialized care.  Most importantly, it will reduce trauma to the child by keeping them with their family.”

The expansion will help address a shortage of treatment options in New York for children and youth who have both developmental disabilities and behavioral health issues. Parents of children who have dual-diagnoses sometimes have to seek treatment at facilities far from their homes and families, often out of state, which can have a detrimental effect on the child and their treatment.

Under this plan, OMH will transition 23 inpatient children and adolescent beds from Hutchings Psychiatric Center to SUNY Upstate to expand access to 29 beds and integrate services for children and their families. The new unit and expanded services will still be staffed by state employees with an expansion of jobs in the Central New York Region.

There will be no layoffs or involuntary transfers as a result of the plan. 

OMH will pursue a sale and permanent transfer of the building, contents and property to SUNY Upstate. The space at Hutchings that will house the new unit has been recently updated and modernized, and SUNY Upstate will make further enhancements to the space for the program expansions.

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