Ellis Medicine expands kids’ mental health clinic in Schenectady

SCHENECTADY – Ellis Medicine’s new childhood and adolescent mental health clinic will see patients starting Monday.

The $ 1.5 million Child, Youth, and Family Mental Health Center, along with Ellis’ adult mental health services, is located at the State Street Health Center at 1023 State St., replacing a smaller on-campus clinic in the McClellan Street from Ellis.

Officials and dignitaries cut the ribbon Tuesday, saying the opening was timely: the lack of space has resulted in a long waiting list for treatment for years, but the need for treatment has increased in the COVID era.

“It’s really having a big impact,” said Dr. Christopher Burky, a child and adolescent psychiatrist who holds the Chair of Psychiatry in Ellis. “Children are social animals, part of their development is going to school, interacting with adults, interacting with other children. And we had a situation where they were isolated at home. “

Paul Milton, CEO of Ellis, said the new facility fulfills the hospital’s original vision of uniting all outpatient psychiatric care in one place with integrated primary care on site.

The inpatient department will remain at Ellis Hospital on Nott Street.

“Ellis has a very long and very proud history in the mental health field and caring for our community,” said Milton. “There is no question that this has shed additional light on the pandemic.”

Ellis Mental Health offers treatments for children, adolescents and young adults aged 4 to 21 years from 31 counties.

Neil Golub, who leads the fundraising campaign to fund Ellis’ new children’s hospital, said the attention drawn over the past year to the tragic interactions between police and mentally ill people shows the need for a better understanding of the police mental illness and the need for additional options for the patients themselves.

Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford and Lt. Ryan Macherone attended the ribbon severing Tuesday, and afterward said the department had been working to develop additional options for their officials.

Mental health is a significant part of the calls to the departments. Macherone, who did some statistical analysis, said about 17,000 to 19,000 of the 80,000 to 90,000 calls the department receives each year involve mental health issues ranging from thoughts of suicide to being with someone to talk to. “So it’s really the full range,” he said.

“We have incorporated some other approaches as well,” said Clifford. Northern Rivers can deploy a mobile crisis team to assess the patient’s needs and suggest the best response; if necessary, the person will be transported to Ellis.

“Ellis has certainly been a committed partner of ours for a long time and we use their services quite a bit,” he said.

The new facility has a play therapy room, a sensory mural with functioning piano keys in the waiting area and an interactive projector system for therapy purposes.
The building is bright, calming and welcoming, but also takes into account the serious problems that some of the young patients bring with them.

For example, the adult and child treatment areas are separated by a locked door, and the bathrooms – the only place where the children cannot be visually monitored – are specially designed so that a suicidal adolescent would have nowhere to put a sling or ligature. not even a doorknob.

Burky said they see suicidal thoughts in their patients, especially during the pandemic.

“We have had a situation where they are isolated at home and we have seen a significant increase in children with depression, anxiety, additional trauma in disabled families, and a higher incidence of suicide and attempted suicide,” he said.

The six- to eight-month waiting list for treatment may seem dangerous if suicidal patients are put on it, but Burky said they will be selected for treatment whenever possible.

“We’re trying to sort the transfers,” he said, “and children with more acute needs can sometimes get on earlier. We can help people get in touch with their GPs. The primary care clinics around here are for the most part very adept at helping with simple depression or ADHD. “

Burky and practice administrator Christina Moran said the lack of space at the current location has prevented additional staff from being hired for patient treatment and case management. The new room will allow more staff to come on board and treat more children, they added.

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