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Legislature wants hospital to reconsider health unit ADVERTISEMENT

Legislature wants hospital to reconsider health unit

PENN YAN--The Yates County Legislature passed a resolution Monday, Feb. 11 stating their opposition to the "closure of the 10 bed inpatient psychiatric unit at Soldiers and Sailors hospital."
The key parts of the resolution included:
• "Finger Lakes Health announced suddenly and without input from community or regional planning that the 10 bed psychiatric unit would be closed due to low census, inadequate reimbursement and ongoing financial losses, including elimination of the 9.39 status (section of state law for mental hygiene that allows emergency admissions for immediate observation, care and treatment) of the hospital and the availability of psychiatric consultants to the emergency department and the community."
• "Alternate psychiatric consultation and inpatient services available a Clifton Springs Hospital are 48 miles or a 66 minute round trip commute and services at Cayuga Medical Center are 92 miles and a two-hour round trip commute away."
• "The elimination of the 9.39 status and availability of psychiatric consultation will require transport for both voluntary and involuntary evaluations to an alternate hospital rather than Soldiers and Sailors resulting in additional insurance, Medicaid, local and law enforcement expense with transport by ambulance or law enforcement vehicle."
• "The legislature is asking Finger Lakes Health to give more consideration regarding the impact that the closure will have on community residents, local institutions and the community as a whole and is requesting the hospital delay the action of this closure."
Lara Turbide, Finger Lakes Health vice president for community relations, sent this email to The Observer responding to the county's resolution:
"Most importantly we are committed to providing safe and appropriate patient care. The unit is not closed, we continue to actively work through processes with state department of health and the office of mental health related to our request to discontinue services. Our board of directors voted in late November related to our intention to request discontinuation of inpatient psychiatric services at Soldiers and Sailors. This was communicated with NYS DOH, and others beginning at that time including conversations with Yates County Legislature representatives and Yates County Community Services Director as a letter from the county is part of the NYS OMH process.
"Since October, we have been aware of the resignation of our full-time psychiatrist. We have been recruiting for psychiatry coverage including consideration of locum tenens physicians and have not found a viable solution. Having full time 24/7 coverage 365 days a year, including on-call coverage is essential to be able to safely admit patients.
"Our emergency department is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with crisis assessment and emergency department physicians and other staff to assess, treat, and refer or transfer patients as appropriate. Anyone needing care can continue to access care through the emergency department as they have always done.
"Also, we have seen growing utilization of outpatient needs and the John D. Kelly Center where we provide outpatient services and we will continue to serve adults and children and families needing outpatient care. This service is separate from the inpatient psychiatric unit.
"The John D. Kelly outpatient clinic service is separate from the inpatient psychiatric unit. The inpatient psychiatric unit is licensed to service adults only and is the inpatient service and in 2018 had on average fewer than one admission per day.
"For patients who are assessed and meet the clinical criteria for inpatient care, we have had conversations with other regional providers who also routinely have capacity and will gladly accept patient transfers from the Emergency Department. This is a similar practice when for other clinical services when we do not have availability of a specific physician speciality.
"Also it is important to reinforce that the SSMH inpatient psychiatric unit has specific admission criteria as outlined by regulatory agencies. We do not accept pediatric or adolescent patients as we are only licensed for adult psychiatric care. Also we are not licensed for dual diagnosis patients (meaning those with substance abuse disorders and psychiatric disorders). Admission criteria and licenses can vary for different hospitals and units.
"As some community dialogue has centered around pediatric and adolescent needs and also the opioid concerns, it is important to educate the public that the SSMH inpatient psychiatric unit is not licensed for patients under 18 nor for dual diagnosis patients such as those with substance abuse disorders."
Turbide said the hospital is talking with state officials on a regular basis and plans to continue the transition at the health facility.

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