County Executive Ryan warns that the loss of these vital services would be “devastating”and calls for an urgent meeting with WMCHealth President & CEO Michael Israel to discuss the quality of services offered in Ulster County
KINGSTON, N.Y. – Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan wrote today to Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) / HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley in response to concerns regarding the temporary removal of sixty behavioral health beds in Ulster County in the wake of COVID-19. County Executive Ryan thanked HealthAlliance for the heroic efforts of their staff and their partnership on several initiatives enabling expanded coronavirus testing and treatment for Ulster County residents, but raised concerns about the diminishment of behavioral health services as a result of HealthAlliance’s preparations.
In late March, the New York State Department of Health identified the Mary’s Avenue campus for an urgent conversion as a potential regional COVID-19 specialized care center. In early April, HealthAlliance temporarily shut down forty inpatient mental health beds and twenty beds dedicated to chemical dependency and detoxification to make room for the potential coronavirus surge
“Although the need for COVID-19 surge capacity has thankfully been averted, HealthAlliance has been unwilling to commit to reactivating any of the sixty behavioral health beds that were impacted. Given the critical need for these behavioral health services in Ulster County, which will only be compounded by a likely surge in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of these beds would be devastating,” wrote County Executive Ryan.
“As we continue to see a dramatic rise in mental health issues and substance abuse as a result of the pandemic, now more than ever, we must guarantee that all residents have ample access to vital local services and come together to ensure our community is receiving the support it deserves,” he continued. “Given our record of partnership, I am confident that working together we can resolve these challenges and ensure our community’s health and safety. We must move quickly and collaboratively, and as such I am requesting a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss and reaffirm HealthAlliance’s commitment to deliver the absolute best quality behavioral health services to the residents of Ulster County, both now and in the future.”