LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (PIX11) — Four years of planning and logistical hurdles culminated with Thursday’s ribbon cutting for the Lower East Side’s newest behavioral health facility.
The Mt. Sinai health system touted this as the largest private investment in mental health care in New York State history.
It is designed to create a new path toward recovery called “step down” care.
It will fill the gap between acute psychiatric care that someone might receive at one of the city’s public hospitals and returning to their home or the streets before they’re ready.
Dr. Grant Mitchell is the Site Chair of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.
“People with mental illness and substance use deserve better. It’s a full continuum, so if you come to this center, no matter what your needs are, we have a service that can serve your needs,” said Mitchell.
The facility will operate on a voluntary admission basis, accepting walk-ins and outside-hospital E.R. referrals.
There will be a mix of offered services among some 130 beds – split between short-term crisis and maximum two-month inpatient stays.
An integrated dual-state license will also allow for the outpatient treatment of addiction and mental health issues under the same roof.
David lives on the Lower East Side.
“It’s definitely needed. I think about 40 or 50 years ago, the government stopped subsidizing mental health facilities and basically tossed everybody out into the street,” said David.
The new facility has the support of several elected officials, including State Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Marie Sullivan, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and local Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.
“I cannot tell you how often people who are living with mental health issues are criminalized and end up in Rikers instead of a place where they can receive programs and services and feel welcome and part of the community,” said Rivera.
Levine also praised Mt. Sinai’s commitment to the city’s mental health crisis.
“One of the biggest challenges that new york has right now is the unmet needs of our fellow new yorkers who are struggling with mental illness,” said Levine.
Mt. Sinai is private and well-funded, which means profits and losses matter.
So the fact that it’s spending $140 million on this new facility says something about its commitment to mental health. Especially when you consider the executive leadership, who are trained psychiatrists. Mt. Sinai’s behavioral health division lost $24 million last year.
These new mental health beds are expected to go online within the next few months.