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The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An Evolving Semi-Monthly Update on Community Mental Health in New York
May 9, 2007


Coalition Brings Behavioral Healthcare Funding Concerns to Washington, DC

Coalition staff, accompanied by Thelma Dye (Northside Center for Child Development, Inc.), Sandra Hagan (The Child Center of New York), Kenneth Popler (Staten Island Mental Health Society, Inc.) and Pamela Straker (Brooklyn Psychiatric Centers, Inc.) visited Washington D.C. on May 2nd to advocate for the protection of federal funding for mental health and substance abuse programs and increased funding for HUD McKinney-Vento housing. Our efforts were combined with members around the country of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare during their Third Annual Hill Day.

The Coalition met with staff from Congress members Charles Rangel, Edolphus Towns and Nydia Velazquez’s offices. We also met with staff from Senator Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer’s offices for substantive discussions.


Re-Organization (Again) at DOHMH


Today, at the monthly DOHMH Contracts Advisory Meeting attended by The Coalition and other stakeholders, Dr. Thomas Frieden announced new organizational changes to the Division of Mental Hygiene.

Three bureaus, one for each of the disability areas has been created, each with its own Assistant Commissioner.  Our congratulations go to Trish Marsik, Josh Rubin and William Lopez, the newly appointed Assistant Commissioners for Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Mental Retardation /Developmental Disabilities respectively.  

Dr. Frieden shared some of his objectives for each of the bureaus including the establishment of a World Trade Center Project in the Bureau of Mental Health; the further development of MATS (Management Addiction Treatment Services) in the Bureau of Chemical Dependency; and in MRDD, a closer examination of the problems in placing dually diagnosed children. Dr. Frieden further shared his belief that the creation of the three bureaus will lead to better communication with the Contracts Division and will help to resolve some of the contracts problems concerning the provider community.

Two other bureaus were established with the intent of strengthening program support; a Bureau of Administration and a Bureau of Mental Hygiene Policy and Planning. An Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Administration is still being sought while Jane Plapinger continues in her role as Assistant Commissioner of Policy and Planning. 

Finally, Drs. Jorge Petit and Myla Harrison continue to provide their expertise in clinical areas and in the development of intra-divisional initiatives. Tamara Hubinsky continues in her role as Senior Director of Contracts.  View the new DOHMH Organizational Chart.


Feig Appointed by Hogan as Deputy Executive Commissioner

In a case of history replayed, Dr. Bruce Feig, principal in Sachs Consulting, former New York City DOE official and former Executive Deputy Commissioner of the State Office of Mental Health in the Cuomo administration has been appointed by Commissioner Michael Hogan as his Executive Deputy Commissioner in the new administration. Coalition leaders and members are familiar with Dr. Feig’s knowledge of the system, his analytical and operational skills and we all tender best wishes for his success. More on this story later.


Hogan Presents Vision for OMH to Coalition Leadership

OMH Commissioner Michael Hogan presented his vision for the State Office of Mental Health to the Coalition’s Board of Directors at an April 18th reception at our office.  The venue provided an excellent opportunity for Dr. Hogan to meet individual members of the Coalition’s Board and share his thoughts about where he sees OMH’s energies and resources being directed in the year ahead.  Dr. Hogan was welcomed and introduced by the Coalition’s Director Phillip Saperia and Board President Jonas Waizer.

Dr. Hogan responded thoughtfully to questions from Coalition Board members on a range of issues, including the implementation of Child Clinic Plus and the need for culturally competent service delivery options for New York City’s diverse consumer population. He noted that he looks forward to working with The Coalition and it's leadership in the years ahead to strengthen the community based behavioral health system.


Dr. Sederer Appointed New OMH Medical Director

Dr. Lloyd Sederer has been appointed Medical Director for the State Office of Mental Health, a position that will enable him to continue to play a leading role in ensuring the delivery of quality mental health services in New York State.  In this role, Dr. Sederer “will provide medical leadership for New York’s $4B mental health system, including accredited hospitals and community services in every county of New York State.”

For the past six years, Dr. Sederer was the Executive Deputy Commissioner for Mental Hygiene Services in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  He was instrumental in helping to shape several key mental hygiene initiatives including: the Quality IMPACT initiative, which uses data-driven quality improvement efforts, into the mental hygiene programs and services; the use of Buprenoprhine to treat opiod addictions; and the landmark New York/New York III Supportive Housing Agreement which will create 9,000 units of housing for homeless and at-risk New Yorkers with disabling conditions.

“Dr. Sederer has been a valuable ally in helping to create a more effective system of care for New Yorkers with behavioral health disorders,” said Phillip Saperia, the Coalition’s Director.  “While we’ll miss his leadership at the Division, we look forward to working closely with him in his new capacity at OMH.”


Commissioners' “Listening Forum” in NYC on June 6th

OMH Commissioner Michael Hogan will join Commissioner Carpenter-Palumbo (OASAS), Commissioner Daines (DOH) and Commissioner Ritter (OMRDD) on a series of “Listening Forum” throughout the State over the next several months.  The Spitzer Administration is inviting New Yorkers to join the Commissioners to “discuss the needs and desires of individuals and their families” and to offer “ideas about ways to better serve New Yorkers.”  The Commissioners will be particularly interested in the ability of New Yorkers to access quality care and how services can best be integrated and coordinated to meet the needs of clients across disability areas.

The Commissioners will kick off their forums at the SUNY New Paltz campus on the evening of May 14th, and will head to NYC on June 6th (details to be announced).   The Coalition applauds this effort and eagerly looks forward to the June forum.  For additional information, please visit: http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/news/pr_people_first_new_platz.html


Six New PROS Licenses Roll Out in NY State


The State Office of Mental Health has just approved six PROS licenses for five mental health providers in Orange and Suffolk Counties.  There is currently one active PROS license in Plattsburgh, NY.  The new list of providers includes Coalition member Clubhouse of Suffolk and soon will include FEGS of Suffolk County.

The Coalition will monitor the success of these new licenses to help gauge the viability of PROS in NYC, where the first license isn’t expected to be granted until next year at the earliest.


OASAS Announces Key Appointments

OASAS Commissioner Karen Carpenter-Palumbo announced last week a series of new appointments that will help the agency “become the premier chemical dependence prevention, treatment and recovery agency in the nation.”  Included in the appointments are:

  • Kathleen Caggiano-Siino – Executive Deputy Commissioner
  • Monica Wilson – Chief of Staff
  • Robert Kent – Chief Counsel
  • Dr. Frank McCorry – Director, Office of New York City Operations
  • Lureen McNeil – Deputy Director, Office of New York City Operations
  • Patricia Zuber-Wilson – Director of Government Affairs
  • William Barnette – Director of Interagency Collaboration

For more information about these and other appointments made by Commissioner Carpenter-Palumbo, please visit: www.oasas.state.ny.us//pio/oasas.cfm#organized.


Benefits Training:  Ask the Expert

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery is proud to present the final session – “Ask the Expert: Solving Your Real-World Benefits Dilemmas”-- of the Spring Benefits Trainings on Friday, May 11th from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at our offices.  The session will serve as a culmination of the previous eight trainings the Center has held on this important subject, and will be facilitated by Edwin Lopez-Soto, an attorney and nationally renowned benefits expert.  Mr. Lopez-Soto is affiliated with Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

This highly interactive session should prove to be stimulating and very informative, drawing on the perspective of real-world issues confronting providers, consumers and other stakeholders in the mental health services.


Joyce Pilsner, Celebrated for 35 Years as Executive Director

Joyce Pilsner, a founding member of The Coalition, was feted on April 25 by the Riverdale Mental Health Association, in celebration of her 35 years of service as Executive Director.

Held at the New York Botanical Garden's Abigail Kirsch Garden Terrace Room, the 48th Anniversary Spring Gala was dedicated to Joyce; the room was full of her colleagues, friends and family. Rob Brewster, the Riverdale Mental Health Association's new Executive Director, presented Joyce with a compendium of letters from her friends and colleagues.

Among the letter writers were The Coalition's Patricia Gallo Goldstein and Phillip Saperia.  He noted that The Coalition is "fortunate to have you with us... as a bridge to the past and as you help us with the vexing questions and choices we still must make".  Pat told Joyce "little do you know that you influenced me in a way that profoundly changed my life".


Youth Initiative Work Group

The next YI Work Group meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 30, 9:30am-11:30am at The Coalition’s offices. This session will focus on youth involvement with the criminal justice system and gang prevention. Gerald Landsberg, Director of NYU’s Institute Against Violence, Felix Castro, a staff member at the International Center for the Disabled’s (ICD) YES Program specializing in youth involvement with gangs, and Beth Navon, Executive Director of the Friends of Island Academy will be attending.

Concurrently, the Work Group is in the process of identifying gaps in services for transition-aged youth with Serious Emotional Disturbances (SED). Based upon this process, the Work Group has begun to formulate a series of recommendations to be presented to the Coalition’s Board of Directors. If you have questions about our next meeting or you would like to participate in any of the Work Group’s activities, please contact Amy Smiley, Ph.D., the Center’s Youth Consultant at asmiley@coalitionny.org  or Alysia Pascaris, the Center’s Director at apascaris@coalitionny.org.


AOT Symposium For Community Providers: Supporting Recovery for Individuals with AOT Orders

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) are offering FREE, full-day symposia for staff from continuing day treatment programs, outpatient clinics, residential facilities, IPRTs and PHPs. Aaron Vieira, the Center’s Director of Education and Training will present alongside OMH AOT researchers, borough AOT team members, and consumers with AOT experience.

The symposia will take place on:

May 8, 8:30 – 4:00, Metropolitan Hospital (Manhattan)

May 15, 8:30 – 4:00, Lincoln Hospital (Bronx)

May 22, 8:30 – 4:00, South Beach Psych. Center (Staten Island)

June 5, 8:30 – 4:00, Woodhull Hospital (Brooklyn)

To register, contact Sonia Jackson at 212-868-6708 or onlusyj@omh.state.ny.us.


Member Seminar: Residential Programs and the Rehab Option - May 21, 2007

In the past few years the Medicaid Rehabilitation Option has come under intense scrutiny from both federal and state government because of rising costs and delivery of services by providers that allegedly do not meet the requirements of medical necessity.  Many residential programs currently provide a number of services commonly referred to as “restorative services” under Part 595 of the Mental Hygiene Regulations and reimbursed by the Medicaid Rehabilitation Option.  To date residential providers have not been audited by the DOH for these programs. Nevertheless, given the current political climate we worry that this might not last.

Mary Thornton, BSRN, MBA; the President of Mary Thornton & Associates and a nationally known consultant will look at the requirements of mental health rehabilitation; discuss the New York State payment model for residential rehabilitation; and discuss the development of treatment plans that build on medical necessity and meet federal and state requirements.

Register online for this May 21st training http://www.coalitionny.org. Registration is $100 for members.


DOHMH’s Bill Martin Moving On

Bill Martin, General Counsel for Mental Hygiene at DOHMH and friend of The Coalition, is leaving after fifteen years at the agency and 23 years for The City.  He has served four Commissioners – Drs. Billy Jones, Luis Marcos, Neal Cohen and Thomas Frieden.  His last day will be May 18th.

Prior to his tenure at DOHMH, Bill spent eight years working for OMB, HRA and HHC, as well as five years at the Rockefeller Narcotic Addiction Control Commission, the predecessor State agency to OASAS.  He has been intimately involved in State legislative issues for many years, and developed funding mechanisms in the 1980’s that infused HHC with over one billion dollars from Medicaid.  In addition, he was instrumental in developing the outpatient civil commitment law and the Early Intervention Program.

“Bill Martin has been a valued friend and colleague for many years,” said Phillip Saperia, the Coalition’s Director.  “He has been an asset to the Department and, by extension, to the entire community-based behavioral health sector, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Bill received his MA in sociology from Columbia and his JD from Hofstra University.


The Center and The Bridge Partner to Deliver Training at ACL-NYC Conference

Hope blossomed at the 2007 conference of the Association for Community Living New York City (ACL-NYC) at Wave Hill House where Aaron Vieira, the Center’s Director of Education and Training, co-facilitated a workshop with Julia Orlando, The Bridge Inc.’s Director of Residential Services.  The workshop was entitled Building Hope with Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Mr. Vieira focused on how principles of recovery and psychiatric rehabilitation can be used to increase consumer hope, motivation and confidence.  Ms. Orlando discussed how she has operationalized these principles in The Bridge’s Residential program, which has recently achieved impressive outcomes for residents.  Over time, the successful collaboration between Center and Bridge staff embodied the name and spirit of this year’s conference, Building Partnerships on the Road to Recovery.


Workshop on Buprenorphine for the Treatment of Heroin and Pain Pill Addictions: May 29, 2007.

Buprenorphine is a new FDA approved medication which has revolutionized the treatment of patients who suffer from addiction to heroin and prescription opioid pills.  Buprenorphine has shown great efficacy and safety in multiple studies and clinical experience in Europe and the US.  Furthermore buprenorphine has been approved by the FDA to be prescribed in outpatient programs, residential programs, inpatient units, and doctors’ offices, just like medications for any other medical and/ or behavioral illness.  

We are pleased to have once again engaged the inimitable Petros Levounis, MD, MA, and Director of the Addiction Institute of New York to teach this course scheduled for May 29, 2007. Dr. Levounis will incorporate case studies and movie clips into his presentation material.

The course is free and recommended for substance abuse treatment providers, mental health providers, psychiatrists, nurses and case managers. Three OASAS CASAC credits will be extended to participants. Register on-line.


Around The Water Cooler…

Council Race Finally Settled.  DemocratMathieu Eugene has won the April 24th special election for the City Council’s 40th District and will fill the seat previously held by Yvette Clarke who is now serving in Congress.  Mr. Eugene won a majority of votes in an Special Election held in February, but requested a new election based on some controversy about whether or not he lived in the Council district on the day of the contest.

James G. Sheehan has been nominated to serve as New York State Medicaid Inspector General. As Medicaid Inspector General, Mr. Sheehan will oversee the fraud and abuse enforcement activities of New York’s $50 billion Medicaid program. The New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General audits and investigates Medicaid providers, recovers revenues through its enforcement system, and develops and operates automated health care data detection systems.

New Coalition Members:  The Coalition welcomes New York Psychotherapy and Counseling Center and HAI (Hospital Audiences Inc.) to our membership.


COPS and CSP Program Descriptions Posted to OMH Website

OMH recently posted descriptions of the COPS (Comprehensive Outpatient Program Services) and CSP (Community Support Program).  These descriptions include information about historical context, rates, threshold, revenue reconciliation, Medicare/Medicaid crossover payment methodology, reporting and claiming, and resources.




Coalition Job Boards

Coalition Members advertise staff positions for free on The Coalition’s Job Board!  Here's a sample:

Job #  Job Title
2676 Construction Coordinator

Clinical Case Manager - Brooklyn, Manhattan

2657 Property Manager

Psychiatric Social Worker

2653 Registered Nurse and Nurse Practitioner

We also have a job board for psychiatrists only.  APA members regularly look at this listing for potential hourly or per diem positions.

Job #  Job Title

Bilingual Child Psychiatrist, Full or Part Time



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