Opened in 2017, the Dutchess County Stabilization Center has provided support for residents in mental health crisis, and has been utilized as an alternative to ending up in the emergency room.
Since its inception, the center has worked with People USA, a nonprofit organization, to provide clinical and non-clinical support for patients. Last year, the decision was made to transfer operations and management to the organization. The center will continue to be funded by the county.
In light of these changes, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Dr. Jackie Johnson discussed the work the stabilization center has been doing during the pandemic.
Visits to the center have gone back to the same level they were in 2019, after they were operating entirely on Telehealth at the beginning of the pandemic.
“The numbers, of course, had dropped when we were doing Telehealth, because, it takes a lot kind of push that out into the community that we were doing Telehealth,” said Dr. Johnson.
Dr. Johnson praised the work of People USA, formerly known as People Inc., who have taken on a stronger leadership role.
“They’ve taken on a very strong administrative role, just in terms of managing the day to day affairs, and they’re doing a really wonderful job,” she said.
Law enforcement agencies and the county department of family services have utilized the center to refer their clients who are in crisis, according to Dr. Johnson.
She describes the center as a “diversion from hospitalization.”
Overall, Dr. Johnson is pleased to see a shift in the conversation on mental health, and believes that the stabilization center has played a role in that shift locally.
“We really can’t deny any more that mental health is directly related to our life circumstances and the environment around us,” she said, “and so for that, I think that people are starting to make the connection between mental health as an innate diagnosis.”