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May 1, 2020
CLICK HERE for Links to State Guidance and Updates on COVID-19
Advancing Public Policies for people with Mental Illness, Substance Use Disorder and/or Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities
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Francine Sinkoff, Editor

Counties to pay 100% of mental competency treatment for defendants - St. Lawrence, Jefferson

Schenectady ARC shifts quickly to serve residents, community

Pandemic doesn't shut down opioid epidemic - Sullivan, Orange

COVID-19 crisis challenges drug courts, incarceration alternatives: Rockland

Disturbing soar in suicides in Queens during coronavirus outbreak in hard-hit borough - NYC

Mount Sinai Takes On Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 Crisis Among Health Workers - NYC

Northeast Business Group on Health Receives $150K Behavioral Health Grant from New York Community Trust - NYC, Westchester & Long Island

NY clinic offers free virtual group therapy to healthcare workers for COVID-related PTSD - Long Island

Broome County reports an increase in non-fatal drug overdoses

Onondaga County opioid overdose deaths rise 22% in 2019

Local hospitals providing more mental health options for healthcare providers - Monroe

Drug Overdoses, Fatalities Rise At Local Level - Chautauqua

MHM: Addressing Opioid Use Amid COVID-19 Pandemic in New York - Western NY
Orleans Mental Health Director Leaving to lead Erie County Department

The Orleans County Mental Health Director is leaving the county to take the job as Erie County Commissioner of Mental Health.

Mark O'Brien has been the Orleans County director for seven years. He has worked for the county for a decade.

O'Brien, a Grand Island resident, told county legislators it was a "very difficult decision" to leave Orleans. He praised the legislators for supporting initiatives to expand mental health services in the county.

He was presented a "Special Recognition Award" on Wednesday by County Legislators.  Read more here .
Mental Health Partners Launch New Crisis Response Initiative During Coronavirus Pandemic

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, almost 1 in 5 Americans experience mental health concerns  each year, while more than 100 die by suicide every day. COVID-19 crisis precautions  introduced such as social distancing and self-isolation, coupled with the fear of medical emergencies and growing anxiety about the prolonged nature of the crisis, could amplify the number of people suffering from mental health concerns across the US. With  Qualtrics  reporting that 41.6% of the population have seen a decrease in their mental wellness since the COVID-19 outbreak, an innovative website resource aims to help alleviate their suffering.  Read more here .
The Psychology Behind Effective Crisis Leadership

Coping in a Crisis: Telehealth Opens New Opportunities for Patients and Providers

Psychological Trauma Is the Next Crisis for Coronavirus Health Workers

Stop Using The Term 'Social Distancing' -- Start Talking About 'Physical Distancing, Social Connection'

Study: Injectable buprenorphine for opioid use disorder: Effects on 1-year recovery outcomes

California To Widen Pipeline Of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
Identifying and Caring for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Course for Pediatric Clinicians

Developed by the AAP Council on Children with Disabilities Autism Subcommittee, this FREE self-paced online PediaLink course educates pediatric clinicians about evidence-based practices in caring for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The course consists of the following 7 units, each grounded in recommendations from the AAP clinical report, " Identification, Evaluation and Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder . "
  • Primer (Recommended Prerequisite): A Day in the Life: How to Facilitate a Successful Pediatric Office Visit for Children with ASD and Their Families
  • Unit 1: Definition, Clinical Symptoms of ASD, and Prevalence
  • Unit 2: Screening for and Surveillance of ASD
  • Unit 3: Diagnostic Evaluation
  • Unit 4: Management of Co-Occurring Conditions
  • Unit 5: Interventions
  • Unit 6: Partnering with Families
Learners may complete all units or select specific units they would like to complete based on their needs, capacity, and professional interests. Units within the course are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 Creditâ„¢ and Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Part 2 points.
For questions on this course, please contact Alexandra Kuznetsov at

Better Together: Health and HMIS Data, Best Practices and Examples from the Field
May 4, 3 - 4 pm, HUD Exchange

Using PSYCKES Quality Indicator Reports
May 5, 10 - 11 am, OMH

May 6, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

Financial Hope, Financial Shame and Suicide
May 7, 12 - 1 pm, Suicide Prevention Center of New York State

Growing Medication Assisted Treatment Programs in a Value Based Contracting World
May 7, 1 - 2 pm, Integrated Addiction Medicine

May 12, 12 - 1 pm, PsychU

COVID-19: Remapping the Healthcare Privacy Landscape
May 12, 4 - 5 pm, Manatt Health

Best Practices for Drug Courts: Implementing Effective Programming for People with Methamphetamine Use Disorder
May 13, 2:30 - 4 pm, SAMHSA's GAINS Center
PSYCKES Mobile App for iPhones & iPads
May 14, 12 - 1 pm, OMH

May 20, 1 - 2:30 pm, OMH

May 27, 3 - 4 pm, NAADAC

Using PSYCKES Recipient Search
May 28, 10 - 11 am, OMH


MAY 2020

Executive Committee Meeting
May 6: 8 am, GTM

Developmental Disabilities Committee Meeting
May 14: 1 - 2:30 pm, GTM

Children & Families Committee Meeting
May 19: 11:30 am - 1 pm, GTM

CLMHD Full Membership Call
May 20: 9 - 11:30 am, GTM

CLMHD Office Closed - Memorial Day
May 25

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting information, 518.462.9422 
CMS Issues Second Round of Sweeping Changes to Support U.S. Healthcare System During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services yesterday issued another round of sweeping regulatory waivers and rule changes to deliver expanded care to the nation's seniors and provide flexibility to the healthcare system as America reopens. These changes include making it easier for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to get tested for COVID-19 and continuing CMS's efforts to further expand beneficiaries' access to telehealth services.

CMS's goals during the pandemic are to 1) expand the healthcare workforce by removing barriers for physicians, nurses, and other clinicians to be readily hired from the local community or other states; 2) ensure that local hospitals and health systems have the capacity to handle COVID-19 patients through temporary expansion sites; 3) increase access to telehealth for Medicare patients so they can get care from their physicians and other clinicians while staying safely at home; 4) expand at-home and community-based testing to minimize transmission of COVID-19 among Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries; and 5) put patients over paperwork by giving providers, healthcare facilities, Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, and states temporary relief from many reporting and audit requirements so they can focus on patient care. Read more here.
New York State Division of the Budget Announces Release of the FY 2021 Enacted State Budget Financial Plan - Projects $13.3 Billion Shortfall

The New York State Division of the Budget announced today the  FY 2021 Enacted State Budget Financial Plan , which projects a $13.3 billion shortfall, or 14%,  in revenue from the  Executive Budget Forecast released in January and estimates a $61 billion decline through FY 2024 as a direct consequence of the  COVID-19  pandemic. As a result, in the absence of Federal assistance, initial budget control actions outlined in the Financial Plan will reduce spending by $10.1 billion from the Executive Budget. This represents a $7.3 billion reduction in state spending from FY 2020 levels.

Released with the Financial Plan is an  assessment of the pandemic's impact on the New York State economy developed by Boston Consulting Group at the State's request. Prior to March 2020, under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York enjoyed a decade of prosperity. During that decade, 1.3 million jobs were created - a 20% increase in private sector employment - to reach a record high as unemployment dropped from 8.9% to 3.7% and wages rose by 47%. However, now, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State's economy will lose $243 billion over the course of the full recovery, the equivalent of 14% of the State's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The COVID-19 recession will be deeper and the recovery longer than the 2008 Great Recession and the recession that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011. Read more here.

Additional article of interest:  Cuomo warns of $8.2 billion in cuts to localities
Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Seeks COVID-19 Mental Health Funds

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling, in a letter provided first to CQ Roll Call, for an emergency infusion of mental health and addiction funding to be added to the next COVID-19 economic stimulus package. 

The 76 lawmakers from both chambers wrote to House and Senate leaders Wednesday requesting at least $35.8 billion for behavioral health in the next legislative package.

Lawmakers are working on an agreement on the fifth piece of major legislation to address the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The writers said this money would be used for evidence-based practices and that a large portion should be set aside for behavioral health organizations that accept Medicaid and perform services for other underserved populations. Read more here.
NYC Rolls Out Courier System to Deliver Methadone to Isolated Patients

For the 30,000 patients who take methadone every day for opioid use disorder in New York City, one big worry was potentially taken away this week. If they are not able to get to their opioid treatment program (OTPs, commonly known as methadone clinics) because they are quarantining with COVID-19 or symptoms of it, they can now get their medication delivered to them via a courier.

New York state's Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS)-in conjunction with the New York City Department of Health-Mental Health (DOHMH), the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and the private Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates (COMPA) of New York-has rolled out the "NYC OTP Methadone Delivery System."

This started on April 20, with methadone delivered to New Yorkers in DHS Isolation Hotels, OASAS spokesman Evan Frost told Filter. Read more here.

Telemedicine Triage Kiosks Reduce ER Visits by 11% for ACO

On another health IT front at the Alliance for Integrated Care of New York, data used to risk-stratify patients resulted in a $2.4M reduction in total costs for the ACO

The Alliance for Integrated Care of New York (AICNY) oversees the healthcare needs of roughly 6,200 dually eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Many AICNY beneficiaries reside in group homes and use Federally Qualified Community Health Centers.

A large number of the beneficiaries present multiple complex chronic health conditions with a high coexistence of mental health conditions making the coordination of care more complex and inefficient.

Visibility into centralized accountable care organization (ACO) data across AICNY's network from its population health vendor, HealthEC, revealed extraordinarily high emergency department utilization rates among the organization's IDD patients living in certified residences. A substantial portion of that ED use was unnecessary or avoidable, but also had a high correlation to inpatient admissions. Read more here.
UnitedHealth's Optum Is In Advanced Talks to Acquire Remote Mental Health Provider AbleTo for About $470 Million

UnitedHealth Group's  Optum is in advanced talks to acquire virtual therapy provider AbleTo for about $470 million, according to people familiar with the deal, at a time when telehealth is more in demand than ever. 

The transaction would value AbleTo, a 12-year-old company based in New York, at about 10 times forward revenue, said the people, who asked not to be named because the deal hasn't closed and terms could still change. Optum, the division of insurer UnitedHealth that provides technology-enabled services, has been growing through acquisitions, including  the purchase of DaVita Medical Group for almost $5 billion and patient-monitoring start-up Vivify Health.

Like other providers of remote health s ervices, particularly in the area of mental health, AbleTo is seeing increased demand as people across the country deal with the medical and economic fallout of Covid-19. Read more here.

Funding Opportunities: U.S. Department of Justice

Deadline: May 18, 2020

The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) supports cross-system collaboration to improve public safety responses and outcomes for individuals with mental illnesses (MI) or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse (CMISA) who come into contact with the justice system.

JMHCP offers grants to help entities prepare comprehensive plans to implement collaboration programs that target qualified offenders and promote public safety and public health. Specifically, per the authorizing statute, grants awarded under this program shall be used to create or expand:
  • Programs that support cooperative efforts by public safety officials and service providers (at any point in the system) to connect individuals with MI or CMISA with treatment and social services
  • Mental health courts or other court-based programs
  • Programs that offer specialized training for public safety officials and mental health providers in order to respond appropriately to individuals with MI or CMISA
  • Programs that support intergovernmental cooperation between state and local governments to address enhanced support to individuals with MI or CMISA
FY 2020 Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program (COSSAP)
Deadline: May 21, 2020

The Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP) was developed as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) legislation. COSSAP's purpose is to provide financial and technical assistance to states, units of local government, and Indian tribal governments to develop, implement, or expand comprehensive efforts to identify, respond to, treat, and support those impacted by illicit opioids, stimulants, and other drugs of abuse.

COSSAP aims to reduce the impact of these substances on individuals and communities, including a reduction in the number of overdose fatalities, as well as mitigate the impacts on crime victims by supporting comprehensive, collaborative initiatives.
What Is Happening With Crisis Services In The Current Crisis?
As health and human service organizations continue to grapple with many of the same concerns expressed by hospital staff and medical professionals on the frontlines, the pandemic has also shed light on a new set of challenges for crisis service provider organizations-including mobile crisis teams, residential programs, and call centers. There are significant discrepancies in utilization and delivery of services across the crisis continuum of care. Crisis call centers are reporting an uptick in utilization. Telehealth has allowed mobile crisis teams to continue to connect with individuals in crisis through first responders-though not without difficulty of acquiring the same quality of information as meeting face-to-face. But for crisis residential programs, many have decreased their bed capacity with some programs forced to suspend services altogether. These were data shared by Travis Atkinson, behavioral health crisis systems expert at TBD Solutions, and Phil Evans, chief executive officer of ProtoCall Services.

Crisis Call Centers For crisis call centers, the majority-or 49%-of respondents reported an increase in call volume, while 26% reported a decrease and 25% reported no change. In addition to the increase in referrals, internal challenges differed significantly from other crisis services. Read more here.
The Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors advances public policies and awareness for people with mental illness, chemical dependency and developmental disabilities.  We are a statewide membership organization that consists of the Commissioner/ Director of each of the state's 57 county mental hygiene departments and the mental hygiene department of the City of New York.