A number of local, county and state officials were on hand in Poughkeepsie Thursday for the formal opening of the Dutchess County Stabilization Center. It’s a walk-in facility for individuals who need immediate assistance coping with mental health issues or substance abuse. The idea is to help residents avoid emergency rooms or even jail and save lives.
“But it is my privilege and honor not only today to open the Dutchess County Stabilization Center, but to dedicate it to a leader who is unparalleled in his commitment to mental health, our very own Dr. Kenneth Glatt,” Molinaro says.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, with Glatt, unveiled the plaque for the center they say is the only facility of its kind in New York. Glatt retired two years ago after serving 35 years as Dutchess County’s longest-serving commissioner of the then-Department of Mental Hygiene. The county’s Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene merged in 2016, creating the Department of Behavioral & Community Health. Here’s Glatt on the new stabilization center.
“The program will work and the program will be an alternative for some, an alternative to jails. For others, it’ll be an alternative to in-patient psychiatric hospitalization,” Glatt says. “It becomes part of the mental hygiene continuum in Dutchess County.”
Glatt, who was instrumental in bringing suicide hotline phones to bridges in the Hudson Valley, addresses what will be critical to the success of the stabilization center.
“Its utilization. Its utilization,” says Glatt. “The community’s got to know about it. The police have got to know about it. The professional community has to know about it.”
Molinaro says the cost of constructing the center was nearly $5.5 million, and the center has a $1 million operating budget that contains all new resources from the both the county and state, via funding secured by State Senator Sue Serino and Assemblymember Didi Barrett. Serino appreciates the intent of the center, saying it’s personal, as she lost her brother to suicide nearly seven years ago. Serino also mentioned recent substance abuse statistics in Dutchess County.
“We lost six kids in the past seven days to drug overdose,” Serino says. “So this facility couldn’t come at a more important time for our community.”
Eric Amoh is senior vice president for clinical services for Westchester Medical Center, whose MidHudson Regional Hospital is one of the partners in the stabilization center.
“And I think this center is acute acknowledgement that until we address these variables, these social determinants — substance abuse, mental illness — we’re not going to bend the cost curve, we’re not going to move the needle on reducing emergency room utilization, reducing hospitalization, reducing readmission,” Amoh says. “And this is on the line with what the state initiative is, on the district, which is we want better care, we want better health, we want lower costs. And, in order to do that, you really have to deal with what has been decimating communities all across the nation, which is substance abuse and psychiatric problems.”
Molinaro believes the center will not only serve as a model, but save taxpayers money.
“We’re actually working with the appropriate individuals to analyze the cost savings and develop a cost-savings analysis to prove that by providing these intervention services it is more beneficial to the individual and less costly to the taxpayer than directing an individual to an emergency room, where they may or may not get the appropriate care, and really keep the system somewhat paralyzed, or go to jail, where it’s more expensive and least effective to the individual and to the taxpayer,” says Molinaro. “So we believe we will save money and we will prove it.”
The center is in the county’s Behavioral & Community Health building on North Road in Poughkeepsie and is open 24/7.