THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) — A Bronx hospital is making sure its patients have an adequate space to get mental health care.
Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx opened a renovated mental health clinic that will allow the hospital to treat more patients and provide more care all in one place.
“I had been off my medication for a while and that’s not really good for me because I get deep panic attacks, anxiety and all kinds of things,” said patient Michael Coco.
Coco said he was having severe emotional distress two years ago when he made the decision to visit the emergency room at Jacobi Medical Center.
“I’m glad that I did that because I wouldn’t be sitting here today otherwise,” said Coco.
Coco has continued to visit the hospital for mental health treatment ever since, but he had his first appointment at the new state-of-the-art Adult Mental Health Outpatient Treatment Clinic. The $8 million renovated space took years to complete. It offers patients ample space and a wide range of therapies and comprehensive care all in one place.
“We have individual therapy. We have group therapy. We have family therapy. We have psychiatrists on site at all times. We have a number of providers. We have a nurse practitioner,” said medical director Dr. Johanna Cabassa.
Coco, who is of Latino decent, said his male counterparts are often hesitant to express the need for help. His doctor agrees and said the vast majority of his patients are women. The doctor said the men who do come in are encouraged to open up when they realize they can relate to him.
“It’s extremely important being able to offer our patients care in their own language and be familiar with their culture and for them to be able to identify with us or with me as a Latino male. It goes a really long way. My style with my patients is to treat them like family,” said Dr. Ignacio Medina, the associate clinical director.
The doctors say the family is much bigger than people realize, as 1 in 5 New Yorkers need mental health care each year. Many clinics closed down and never reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a strain on the health system.
“Mental health as a whole is not something that we like to talk about, but it’s kind of everybody’s dark secret until it explodes,” said Coco.
Coco said he is glad he didn’t let it get to that point in his case. He even plans to rejoin the workforce.