Mental health beds to return to Kingston – The Daily Freeman

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KINGSTON, N.Y. — A two-year fight over the elimination of mental health beds in Ulster County ended Wednesday with the announcement that WMCHealth has agreed to return 20 inpatient beds to its HealthAlliance Mary’s Avenue campus.
“We are returning desperately, desperately needed mental health and detox beds back here to Ulster County to this site to what is going to be a brand new, beautiful state-of-the-art hospital,” County Executive Pat Ryan said during a press conference at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley’s Mary’s Avenue campus.

Ryan said the return of inpatient mental health and detox beds, coupled with other mental health services the county will provide to those in need in the community could help prevent such tragedies as Tuesday’s elementary school shooting in Texas that resulted in the death of 19 children and two adults.
“I fundamentally believe we can answer the hate and the terrible things that happened last night, that happened 10 days prior, and have been happening over and over, ultimately with this, with humanity and care and love and recognition that yes, guns are a part of it and a big part of it but it’s much deeper and more profound than that and this right here gets really at the heart of that and so I’m really proud and actually optimistic about what that means in the moment that we’re in,” he said.
The move by WMCHealth to bring inpatient mental health beds back to Mary’s Avenue campus comes two years after WMCHealth eliminated its 60-bed inpatient mental health unit to accommodate what was expected to be a surge in demand for hospital beds stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there was never a need for the additional beds, WMCHealth did not reopen its inpatient facility in Kingston, a move that infuriated community leaders and elected officials who have pressured the state to force WMCHealth to reinstate those beds. In April, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro announced a partnership with WMCHealth to increase the number of inpatient mental health beds at MidHudson Regional Hospital, in Poughkeepsie.
WMCHealth is the parent company of HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, which runs hospitals on Mary’s Avenue and Broadway in Kingston, in addition to MidHudson Regional Hospital and Margaretville Hospital in Delaware County.
The agreement announced Wednesday followed what Ryan and Josh Ratner, WMCHealth’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer described as “challenging discussions.”
“This is one step in a major community-wide and frankly private partnership between business and government and others to try to focus on health and increase the health and wellness of the community,” said Ratner.
He said the 20 beds planned for Ulster will complement the 60 beds planned for MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie.
“At a time when many hospital and health systems across the country frankly are exiting the behavioral health business … we’re making a firm commitment today and moving forward as the largest provider of behavioral health services … in the Hudson Valley …  we remain firmly committed to the delivery of those services for those communities,” Ratner said.
Ratner said the hospital began the process of applying for a certificate of need from the state Health Department for the new beds and expects the new inpatient mental health unit to open in early 2023.
In a statement following the press conference, state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill said: “The announcement by Westchester Medical Center/Health Alliance of the Hudson Valley today
of the restoration of some of the inpatient beds for their duly licensed inpatient behavioral health unit is the first bit of good news on the subject we have heard since the discontinuance of resident services early in the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Cahill, D-Kingston, said that while his office is still examining the details of the plan, “some area residents are breathing a sigh of relief that their loved ones may once again have life-saving care in our community.”
“Today represents a major healthcare milestone in our continued fight against the opioid crisis and compounding mental health crisis ravaging our area–the result of a unified coalition of community leaders and advocates who I’ve been proud to work with to ensure we have the local, life-saving services our residents deserve,” said Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, in a statement Wednesday.  “That’s what these mental health and detox beds are–a lifeline for our community.”

Standing in front of the soon-to-open expanded HealthAlliance Hospital on Mary's Avenue in Kingston, N.Y., WMCHealth Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Josh Ratner, along with other county, state and HealthAlliance representatives, announced the return of inpatient psychiatric care with the creation of 20 newly renovated inpatient beds. (Tania Barricklo/Daily Freeman)

Standing in front of the soon-to-open expanded HealthAlliance Hospital on Mary's Avenue in Kingston, N.Y., Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, along with other county, state and HealthAlliance representatives, announced the return of inpatient psychiatric care with the creation of 20 newly renovated inpatient beds. At left is state Sen. Michelle Hinchey. (Tania Barricklo/Daily Freeman)

Standing in front of the soon-to-open expanded HealthAlliance Hospital on Mary's Avenue in Kingston, N.Y., Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan , along with other county, state and HealthAlliance representatives, announced the return of inpatient psychiatric care with the creation of 20 newly renovated inpatient beds. (Tania Barricklo/Daily Freeman)

Standing in front of the soon-to-open expanded HealthAlliance Hospital on Mary’s Avenue in Kingston, NY., WMCHealth Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer Josh Ratner, along with other county, state and HealthAlliance representatives, announced the return of inpatient psychiatric care with the creation of 20 newly renovated inpatient beds. (Tania Barricklo/Daily Freeman)

Standing in front of the soon-to-open expanded HealthAlliance Hospital on Mary’s Avenue in Kingston, NY.. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan , along with other county, state and HealthAlliance representatives, announced the return of inpatient psychiatric care with the creation of 20 newly renovated inpatient beds. (Tania Barricklo/Daily Freeman)

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