Mental Health Unit To “Discontinue Operations” On 2/11, FLH Says: “This Is Not A Closure”

From The Chronicle-Express:

With the unit’s psychiatrist’s last day on the job Feb. 15, the unit will discontinue serving patients. Those in crisis who come to the Penn Yan emergency department will be evaluated. If they need admission, they will be transferred by ambulance to another unit, such as Clifton Springs.

A registered nurse who has worked on the 10-bed inpatient adult behavioral health unit at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital reports that staff there were told Friday, Feb. 8 that the unit will discontinue operations Monday, Feb. 11, the same day Yates County Legislators are expected to vote on a resolution opposing the closure of the unit.

American flags line the entrance to Soldiers and Sailors Hospital in Penn Yan, NY

Hospital spokesperson Lara Turbide confirmed the decision Friday afternoon, and stressed that no new patients will be admitted after the weekend, because the average length of stay for patients is five days. The last day of psychiatrist Stephanie Achilles’ contract is Feb. 15. After that day, the unit will not have a psychiatrist, says Turbide. However, the John D. Kelly Behavioral Health Center continues to serve adults, she adds.

She says efforts to recruit another doctor for the inpatient unit have been unsuccessful, but are continuing.

However, Finger Lakes Health’s website only lists recruitment information for a psychiatrist for the John D. Kelly adult outpatient program in Penn Yan.

Turbide also stresses FLH officials are in active conversation with state agencies. “This is not a closure. We are continuing to work with the Office of Mental Health and Department of Health on a plan….We are committed to providing safe care,” she says.

Beginning Feb. 11, people in crisis who come to the emergency department at Soldiers & Sailors hospital will be evaluated by a crisis worker — a licensed social worker — and if they are appropriate for admission, they will be transferred to a mental health unit elsewhere, such as Clifton Springs by ambulance. “We will get people to the right resources,” says Turbide.

There are conflicting versions of the events that have led to Finger Lakes Health’s decision to seek closure of the behavioral health unit, with current and former staff describing poor management situations or decisions they feel were inappropriate for some patients, including barring some individuals from the unit.

Click below for the full Chronicle-Express story:

“S&S Behavioral Health Unit to stop admitting Monday”

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