NYSPA Meets with Ann Sullivan, M.D., Acting Commissioner, NYS Office of Mental Health

On March 7, 2014, NYSPA members met with Ann Sullivan, M.D., Acting Commissioner of the NYS Office of Mental Health to discuss issues relevant to the practice of psychiatry.  NYSPA is very pleased with the appointment of Dr. Sullivan, who is the first psychiatrist to head OMH in more than 30 years.  The meeting was attended by Glenn Martin, M.D.,   Seeth Vivek, M.D., Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., Barry Perlman, M.D., Jim Nininger, M.D., and Edmond Amyot, M.D.


The first topic addressed by the group was the OMH Regional Centers of Excellence, a plan to reorganization the state hospital system, including the elimination of a total of 600 beds state-wide.  The group discussed the need for increased community-based safety net services to provide necessary services to those who will be discharged from inpatient facilities.  Dr. Sullivan noted that the state is considering transitional beds, wrap-around services and adult foster care programs as possible initiatives. 

The group also discussed continued difficulty in connection with approvals for admission and long delays in transferring patients to state psychiatric centers.  In addition, patients with developmental disabilities are unable to be discharged in a timely manner due to lack of availability of appropriate residential settings. 

Dr. Sullivan reported that one of the priorities of her office is to establish a fully operational telepsychiatry program that could be covered under the Medicaid program.  NYSPA plans to establish a new Committee on Telepsychiatry and would like to be involved in the development of the state's  initiative.  

Other topics discussed were challenges regarding the NYS Justice Center, OMH's guidelines on seclusion and restraint, and recent changes to parameters for benzodiazepine therapy that do not reflect generally accepted psychiatric practice.  Going forward, NYSPA plans to meet with Dr. Sullivan on a regular basis to share ideas and challenges and provide feedback on issues affecting psychiatrists and their patients.