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Policy Revision: Improved Psychiatric Care
The closures of New York State Psychiatric Hospitals have been widely discussed by the media, as well as in the psychiatric community. In recent years under
Governor Cuomo’s tenure, the available psychiatric beds have been reduced to 27 per 100,000 New Yorkers as of 2015; to put that into perspective, it was 600
per 100,000 in 1955. According to OMH (2015), New York State has about 4,247 adult state psychiatric hospital beds; an additional 3,000 beds is needed to
serve the current population which would increase it to 50 beds per 100,000. This shortage of available beds and subpar policies to treatpsychiatric
patients has contributed to a higher percentage of the mentally ill being incarnated and thousands more homeless. The continued trend of closing psychiatric
hospitals and providing insufficient policies will only exacerbate the situation and become increasingly problematic for the safety of the community.While
using discretionary spending is crucial when balancing a state budget; state leaders must consider that all individuals needing psychiatric assistance are
accounted for. According to Swanson (2013), the expansion of outpatient therapy is cost effective; as some cost analysis show that New York City’s net cost
declined 43% in the first year and another 13% in the second year. By initiating policies and laws that will revise and or expand on the current success of
outpatient therapy and collaborative care models, success may be accomplished while maintaining fiscal responsibility and improved patient outcomes.
The problem rests within the current policies and or legislature, as they are riddled with loopholes which allow the mentally ill to go untreated because the
state agencies are not working together in a collaborative and cohesive manner. The creation of comprehensive policies and or guidelines for Doctors,
Advanced Practice Nurses, Healthcare Systems, Department of Corrections and Homeless Shelters;will hold all accountable for the care and assistance they
provide. While each of the above is responsible for providing aid to the community, they each serve different purposes and must follow the perspective
guidelines and policies set by the state. It is imperative that legislature and policies be revised and implemented to insure that all individuals who
suffer from mental illness can receive the care and treatment they need and deserve while maintaining their dignity, privacy and safety.Legislators have a
unique problem to repair because they must convince the healthcare systems and providers that such policy will benefit patients and the community. According
to Daly (2010), it is also important that patients become a part of the treatment plan because they must be cooperative and or “patient buy in” if treatment
is to be successful.
Currently, under Kendra’s Law which was initially proposed in 1999 by families of patients who suffered from severe mental illnesses to maintain the safety
of the community as well as improve the lives of their loved ones. The law was credited after the death of journalist Kendra Webdale in 1999, who was pushed
to her death under a subway train by a man suffering with schizophrenia. This law does two things; it allows judges to order healthcare systems to care for
people with serious mental illnesses instead of selecting the easiest treatment plan. Also, it sets in place a requirement that individual’s with extensive
histories of multiple arrests, incarcerations, and needless hospitalizations are required to accept treatment as a condition for living in the community.
According to Levin (2013), the current policy has proven to be successful as it helps the mental health system by encouraging access to services,
prioritizing the seriously ill, improving communication and collaboration by providing (AOT) assisted outpatient services. While the policy is deemed
successful, expanding the policy in order to help as many individuals as possible is a welcomed idea.
Individuals who suffer from mental illness are affected by the above mentioned policy Kendra’s Law and are the Key Stakeholders. But it also helps their
family and the community as a whole because persons disabled by mental illness are able to play a more active part in the community once stabilized by
treatment. This is beneficial because it has proven to reduce arrest, incarcerations, hospitalizations, physical harm to others, substance abuse, suicide
attempts and homelessness. Some stakeholders may benefit more than others; such as the nurses, police and other emergency personal because of the reduced
incident of violence towards them while caring for mentally ill individuals. Also according to Levin (2013), tax payers would be another key stakeholder
because on average the annual cost per patient in New York was reduced by $52, 367.00 after being discharged to (AOT)assisted outpatient services.
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