The opening of a modern $153 million psychiatric center at Kings County Hospital this month marked much more than the long overdue replacement of the antiquated “G” building. The award-winning structure will be a backdrop for comprehensive reforms to improve care and radically change the patient experience for the 12,000 New Yorkers served by the hospital’s behavioral health program every year.
The reforms, and some of the improvements already in place, were announced February 5th by HHC President Alan Aviles, who was joined by the newly appointed Kings County Hospital Executive Director Antonio Martin and Dr. Joseph Merlino, the newly appointed Director of Behavioral Health Services.
In addition to the new center, the completed first phase of improvements in place at Kings include:
- The addition of more than 200 new doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and other staff.
- A reduction of the average length of stay in the ER from 27 hours to 8 hours or less through better coordination with EMS and other components of the mental health system, adequate staffing ratios, more efficient triage, assessment and treatment.
- Priority access to 24 crisis beds at Kingsborough Psychiatric Center (KPC), jointly staffed by Kings County and KPC to further reduce overcrowding.
- Reduced reliance on hospital police to manage patients in crisis with deployment of new, non-uniformed and specially trained personnel who have crisis intervention and security skills.
“The changes represent the most dramatic overhaul of mental health services the program has received in its nearly 70-year history,” said Antonio Martin, who was appointed February 2nd. “We are committed to rebuilding trust and creating a model mental health program that will make this community and this city proud.”
The second phase of the reforms will include changes like the addition of more Peer Counselors to serve as patient navigators and mentors and the creation of a Consumer and Family Advisory Group. A new care coordination model will also be developed to link patients with doctors who can help them manage chronic medical problems that often go untreated among the mentally ill.
Noting that the design and implementation of the sweeping and radical changes have been a year in the making, HHC President Alan Aviles said, “These efforts took on even greater urgency with the tragic and inexcusable neglect and death of Esmin Green. As we relocate psychiatric services into this modern facility, we are turning a page and putting into place a culture of patient-centered care, a culture anchored in compassion, respect and an emphasis on sustainable recovery for patients to help them re-integrate with their community.”
Click here to view complete highlights of the comprehensive program of reforms at the Kings County Behavioral Health Center.