Over the course of the next three years, the state public mental health system will be redesigned into 15 Regional Centers of Excellence (RCEs) including three forensic regional centers of excellence and two research centers of excellence.  According to the state's plan, RCE's will be “regionally-based networks of inpatient and community-based services, each with a specialized inpatient hospital program located at its center with geographically dispersed community service “hubs” overseeing state-operated community-based services throughout the region.” RCE's will be established in the following five regions:  Western New York, Central New York, Hudson River, New York City, and Long Island.  

The plan also includes implementation of RCE Teams to be co-chaired by an OMH Senior Executive, a County Commissioner of Mental Health or Director of Community Services for one of the counties within that region and a community stakeholder, all to be appointed by the OMH Commissioner.  In addition, each RCE Team will have up to 15 members not including the co-chairs, to be appointed by the OMH Commissioner, representing “a wide variety of stakeholder interests in the mental health system.”   RCE Teams will "identify regional priorities for community service expansion, develop regional outcome metrics, and develop alternative use plans for state property in consultation with Regional Economic Development Councils, within the state fiscal plan.”  Nominations for RCE Teams can be submitted at: http://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/excellence/rce/rcenom.html.

According to the Plan, OMH intends to ensure continuity of employment for its employees through voluntary reassignments, opportunities with other State agencies, expanded opportunities in the community, retraining employees for new roles, and opportunities to continue to serve in inpatient settings within an RCE.  The plan is not expected to impact the number of psychiatrists employed by OMH. The RCE plan also calls for elimination of catchment areas, thereby “allowing individuals and families to make their own choices about where they will receive specialty behavioral treatment.”

RCE Teams are expected to establish regional implementation priorities and work plans by October 1, 2013.  Initial implementation is expected to commence in July, 2014, with full implementation completed in 2017. Future legislation will be required to change the names and locations of the state psychiatric centers, which are currently listed in the Mental Hygiene Law.

The 59-page plan can be accessed at: http://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/excellence/rce/