A team of mobile behavioral health experts are venturing into the Bronx to provide patients with comprehensive services outside of the hospital.
Jacobi Medical Center and North Central Bronx Hospital’s Assertive Community Treatment Program is an evidence-based treatment model comprised of an interdisciplinary team of mental health experts who provide integrated services and care to the severely mentally ill.
ACT may be considered the best treatment option in aiding individuals suffering severe cases of debilitating, chronic and persistent psychiatric disorders who have difficulty maintain appointments or suffer from psychosocial issues hindering their recovery and perhaps threatening his or her well-being.
“This is not your traditional outpatient service,” Dr. Karen Inghilterra, JMC’s Behavioral Health Outpatient Services director explained. “These are people suffering from a variety of psychosocial issues and it requires the right type of professional to reach them.”
Venturing outside the hospital, ACT teams provide comprehensive and intensive outpatient treatment to people most likely to skip appointments or not adhere to medication regimens yet are also high users of emergency rooms and inpatient hospitalization services.
Situations such as these are not just costly, but can result in fragmented care by providers who may not be familiar with a patient’s past medical or psychiatric history.
The ACT Program seeks to prevent such incidences from occurring.
Teams visit to counsel and work with patients to develop individualized treatment plans designed to keep them healthy and safe as well as addressing their medications, housing, finances, employment support and other essentials for success.
This type of engagement and treatment can improve patients’ symptoms, stability and quality of life over time and the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates ACT can reduce hospitalizations by 20%.
Kara Simpson has been involved with ACT for almost a decade and has served as NCBH’s team leader since 2011.
“Our patients have encountered difficulties in every other program so we work as a multidisciplinary team to address our patients’ needs,” she said. “Every day is different; sometimes we roll into environments where anything can happen!”
ACT possesses an array of clinical and behavioral specialists including psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, case workers and substance abuse counselors in addition to a variety of disciplines collaborating to address issues patients experience such as homelessness, hunger, and unemployment.
“Our teams meet four times a week and discuss how to treat and approach different patients,” Nathania Kurtz, a licensed social worker at JMC explained. “Sometimes persistence pays off, we’ll go knock on doors every week if that’s what’s needed to help our patients.”
This program offers intensive services Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well as 24 hours a day, seven days a week crisis intervention.
According to the New York State Office of Mental Health, 44% of Jacobi’s ACT patients met their treatment goals within the last year and 35% of NCBH’s patients achieved similar results.
ACT admission eligibility is determined through a local Single Point of Access process which refers consumers to an ACT team depending on their catchment area.
For additional information on the ACT Program, contact 311 to be referred to the proper intake service.