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NCBH upgrades psych ER

Bronx Times
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North Central Bronx Hospital recently unveiled upgrades to its Psychiatric Emergency Room, promising increased security and enlarged space.

“Our new Psychiatric Emergency Room provides the excellent care NCBH is known for, now in a brand-new, state-of-the-art setting,” said Bill Walsh, NCBH’s executive director.

He joined fellow administrators, elected officials and community leaders in ushering the updated ward in Norwood on Nov. 6, taking $2.4 million to replace the somewhat archaic center within a three-year span.

Construction crews took note of the nature of the facility, intended as the first entry point for the mentally ill, by making several enhancements that keep staffers and patients safe from potentially dangerous situations.

For instance, on top of brand new Closed-Circuit Television monitors installed at each evaluation room, the 24-hour facility also features suicide-proof doors for any troubled Bronx patient tempted to hang themselves.

Crews also carved out bigger clinical space, tripling space from 1430 to 3600 square feet. Clinicians believe more examination and intake rooms will cause a 10% spike patients being serviced by teams of psychiatrists, social workers and other medical professionals. Last year, NCBH evaluated 3400 patients. The expanded clinic looks to bump that number up to over 3700.

“This construction and renovation provides strong confirmation that we will be providing needed mental health care in the Northwest Bronx for years to come,” said Sheldon McLeod, NCBH’s chief operating officer. Personnel will remain the same, though a hospital spokesman confirmed an “examination is underway for additional staff.”

The facility serves as the initial stop for the mentally ill, which amounts to 5% of all New York State residents, according to federal health stats.

Following an evaluation, clinicians then decide whether to release the patient or commit them to a hospital.

But with the Cuomo administration hardened reforms on state-sponsored mental health services through federal court order, finding a substantial number of hospital beds for the mentally ill has now been a challenge.

Governor Cuomo has proposed for nearly a year to scale back inpatient services, banking on community-based health organizations and other private groups to pick up the slack.

NCBH does refer patients to the Bronx Psychiatric Center adjacent the Hutch Metro Center in Morris Park, which will feature roughly 200 beds when its renovation project is completed next year.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383
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CNG: Community Newspaper Group