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Ellis Medicine delivers community-based mental health treatment

Those suffering psychiatric emergencies due to mental health conditions often seek care at hospitals’ emergency departments due to the unavailability or inaccessibility of appropriate behavioral health services. This can negatively affect the quality of care for these patients and drive up costs for patients and providers. In 2018, Ellis Medicine created The Living Room as a safe place in the community for patients to seek mental healthcare.

The Living Room is a community-based crisis diversion program designed to improve care and reduce costs by providing individuals in mental health crisis with an alternative to the hospital emergency department. The goals of the program are consistent with Schenectady County’s top Prevention Agenda priority area, “Promote Well-Being and Prevent Mental and Substance Use Disorders.” To create the program, Ellis Medicine partnered with Rehabilitation Support Services and the Alliance for Better Health. Collaboration and co-location are keys to success. Peer counselors help to offset staffing shortages, community referrals maximize patient engagement and the capacity for “warm hand-offs” adds value.

Since opening, The Living Room has served 794 unique individuals through 1,666 visits; these guests made only 43 behavioral health ED visits during the period, avoiding $1,746,919 in costs based on the New York state average ED visit. Guests reported a three-point reduction in stress levels (on a 10-point scale) resulting from their visit. The Living Room is focused on serving low-income people — 89% of visits were Medicaid enrollees or uninsured individuals.

For more information, contact Mary May, clinical manager, outpatient mental health, at maym@ellismedicine.org or (518) 831-6921.