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The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An Evolving Semi-Monthly Update on Community Behavioral Health in New York
                       June 13 , 2012

Coalition to Celebrate Leadership Awards Event on June 20

The Coalition urges you to attend its 2012 Annual Leadership Awards Reception on Wednesday, June 20, 2012. You will join community leaders and behavioral health professionals as we honor individuals who have shown commitment and dedication to improving the lives of people with behavioral health disorders and strong service to the behavioral health community. 

This year, The Coalition is proud to honor its very own Dr. Courtenay Harding, PhD, who is departing as Director of The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery. We will present her with our Distinguished Service Award for her career of outstanding research and teaching, and personal assistance to mental health professionals and consumers of mental health services, as well as her service to The Center.

Recipients of this year’s highly coveted Leadership Awards will be Charlotte Fischman, Partner, Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel, LLP; Robert Myers, Sr. Deputy Commissioner, Division of Adult Services, 
NYS Office of Mental Health;
Jane Velez, CEO, Palladia, Inc; Carlton C. Whitmore, Sr. Coordinator for Consumer Affairs, NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The Coalition will also honor its longtime member and friend, Joan DiBlasi, Ph.D, Assistant Executive Director, Astor Services for Children and Families with the Founders Award.

You can register online at: http://www.coalitionny.org/store/leadership_awards.php


FY13 City Budget Advocacy in Final Month

The Coalition continues to advocate, through meetings with City Council Members and presence at City Hall, for the restoration of the behavioral health initiatives sponsored by the New York City Council. On Monday, June 4, 2012, Commissioner Thomas Farley of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) testified before the City Council at the Health and Mental Hygiene hearing on the Mayor’s FY 2013 Executive Budget. During questioning by Council Member G. Oliver Koppell, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services, Commissioner Farley affirmed that the City Council initiatives sponsored by that committee were effective and necessary. Unfortunately, these programs have also been cut significantly (between 25% and 55%) since FY 2009. The Coalition is advocating to make them whole again. In summary:

  • Mental Health Contracts funds 7 community-based agencies that provide diverse but essential behavioral health services in a variety of delivery models, including The Coalition’s Professional Learning Center (PLC), the City’s LINK program and a transitional living community for homeless women with psychiatric difficulties. In FY 2009, Mental Health Contracts was funded at $975K, but was drastically cut to $450K by FY 2012.
  • Children Under Five Mental Health Initiative (CU5), which supports 8 diverse agencies, in all 5 boroughs of New York City. The goal is to identify and treat children who are at risk for social and behavioral difficulties. Many have experience significant trauma in their young lives. Left untreated these issues will likely worsen and bring larger costs later on, both financially and in terms of life outcomes. In FY 2009, CU5 was funded at $1.6M, but was cut down to $1.25M by FY 2012.
  • Geriatric Mental Health Initiative (GMHI) provides mental health services in nontraditional, neighborhood-based settings that are places of trust and comfort for older adults. This funding greatly enhances the ability of 25 experienced organizations to provide a range of mental health services in “non-clinical settings,” which include senior centers, drop-in centers, homeless shelters and in their own homes. In FY 2009, GMHI was funded at $2.4M, but by FY 2012, it was funded at $2M.

Following the hearing, the City Council’s Budget Negotiating Team (BNT) met for the first time. Then on Wednesday, June 06, 2012, the City Council Finance Committee held a full day of hearings, where The Coalition submitted testimony. Events and meetings at City Hall have provided Coalition staff several opportunities to remind Council Members of the effectiveness of these initiatives. With only about 2 weeks left until the budget gets passed, we will continue our push. Stay tuned for more updates and advocacy alerts!


Governor Cuomo Announces $10B Federal Waiver Request for MRT Reinvestment

On Monday, June 4, 2012, Governor Cuomo announced that New York will request, as part of its Medicaid 1115 waiver from the federal government, permission to allow the state to secure $10 billion of the federal portion of Medicaid savings generated by the reforms of the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT). According to a press release from Governor Cuomo’s office, MRT initiatives are projected to save the state $34.3 billion over the next five years. Since Medicaid is funded 50/50 between the state and federal government, New York State will request $10 billion of the federal portion of the savings to reinvest over a five-year period.

The reinvestment of Medicaid savings achieved by the MRT through the closure or reduction of expensive inpatient, emergency and hospital-based services into community-based services like housing, peer services, employment, clubhouses and clinic services, has been part of The Coalition’s Albany advocacy agenda during our participation in the MRT workgroups and on our advocacy days in Albany. At the most recent meeting of The Coalition’s Government Relations Committee, we reviewed the state’s summary document to implement the MRT action plan, and discussed how to emphasize community-based behavioral health services in MRT reinvestment. To submit comments, either attend the public forum in New York City on Monday, June 18 from 12:30 -3:30 at Bronx Community College, or email them to mrtwaiver@health.state.ny.us.


Coalition to Attend the National Council’s Hill Day

On June 25-26, 2012, The Coalition will head down to D.C. to join over 500 behavioral health executives, administrators, board members, consumers, and community stakeholders to advocate on federal behavioral health policy at the National Council's 8th Annual Public Policy Institute and Hill Day.

Last year Coalition members met with representatives of the New York delegation to secure funding for the Mental Health Block Grant (which was increased by $41 million in the 2012 budget – the first increase in over 10 years), and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (which was increased by $21 million in the 2012 budget). The agenda also included raising awareness and support for legislation to extend federal health IT incentive payments to behavioral health providers and organizations, as well as preserving Medicaid funding during the budget deficit reduction negotiations. 

The National Council has published draft fact sheets on two of the topics that we will discuss with Members of Congress on Hill Day. One is the Excellence in Mental Health Act, and the other is the Behavioral Health IT Act. Fact sheets will soon be made available on the 2013 appropriations process and the Mental Health in Schools Act. There is still time for behavioral health providers in New York State to sign up and join us for Hill Day 2012. Please contact State Captain, Jason Lippman of The Coalition, at (212) 742-1600 x102 or jlippman@coalitionny.org for more information.


The Coalition Welcomes New Members

The Coalition is delighted to announce two new members:

Link2Health Solutions, a leading innovator developing technology and communications infrastructure critical for supporting the emotional well-being of individuals and communities in need. Through its service networks and agency partnerships, Link2Health Solutions provides high-quality, scalable programs that reach over 500,000 people nationally every year.

Community Health Action of Staten Island (CHASI) strives to improve the lives of individuals, families and communities challenged by health disparities related to poverty, discrimination and lack of access through service, education and advocacy. The agency has four storefronts in neighborhoods with the highest rates of HIV, STD, poverty and substance use. CHASI also has programs located at our St. George administrative offices and in local state prisons, NYC probation and NYS Parole Offices.


Health Homes Educational Forums for Consumers
(Program Supervisors & Direct Care Staff are Invited & Welcome)

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery is presenting a series of borough-based, educational forums on Health Homes. These forums will provide essential information about Health Homes and their implementation in New York City.

Coalition advocates, consultants and peer educators will be on hand to provide answers to your questions. The next forum will be held in Upper Manhattan. We especially hope that people from that area and the Bronx can attend, but certainly all are welcome. The event details appear below:

Date/Time:                     June 29, 2012 / 10:00am to 11:30am

Location:                        Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS)
                                     198 East 121st Street, 5th Floor, Room #529
                                      Nearby Subway Lines: 4, 5 and 6

Who Should Attend:        Behavioral Health Consumers, Program Supervisors & Staff

Registration:                   Simply send us your agency name, and names of those who will attend

Send to: Deborah Short at dshort@coalitionny.org / Fax: 212-742-2132

Please print and share the event flyer with consumers in your programs. In addition, at each forum, a Fact Sheet called “What consumers need to know about Health Homes,” will be distributed. This fact sheet is available in English, Chinese, Russian and Spanish.


2 Youth Peer Positions Open at The Center

The Center is looking to hire two enthusiastic youth peers, ages 18 -25, to help update and improve our young adult website, Where It’s At?. Candidates with ability to do extensive internet research and information gathering are encouraged to apply. For more information, please visit our Peer Job Board


Around the Water Cooler

We have bittersweet news to report in this edition of Coalition Briefs, as quite a few of our colleagues have recently announced that they will be retiring or moving on to other endeavors. Their service and friendship will surely be missed, but we wish them nothing but the best as they begin new phases.

Senator Tom Duane has announced that he will not seek reelection to the New York State Senate. According to a statement on Senator Duane’s website, “I was first elected to the State Senate in 1998 and I have worked hard to represent all the people of my Manhattan district for the past 14 years. But 14 years is a long time in Albany, and I have decided it is time for a new chapter in my life.” During his tenure in the Senate, Duane has been extraordinarily effective legislator in tenant and housing issues, LGBT rights and access to healthcare for all New Yorkers. He has been a friend to The Coalition and we will miss him.

After 32 years of serving as the NYS Office of Mental Health’s go-to-guy on psychiatric rehabilitation leading up to the development of the Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program, David Bucciferro is retiring from state service. His farewell celebration will take place on June 21, 2012, from 5:00pm – 8:00pm at the Albany Hibernian Hall, 375 Ontario St, Albany. To purchase tickets, please contact: Liam McNabb at liam.mcnabb@omh.ny.gov or Nancy Koltko at nancy.koltko@omh.ny.gov or Jill Dorsi jill.dorsi@omh.ny.gov or call: 518-473-8561. We hear rumors that David will be staying close to the behavioral health community in an entirely new role in the private sector! We expect to continue working with him.

Dr. Courtenay Harding, Ph.D., Director of The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery, will retire at the June. She recently got married and is relocating to Virginia to be with her new husband. Dr. Harding’s career has consisted of outstanding research and teaching; and of personal assistance to mental health professionals and consumers of mental health services. Courtenay plans to land work as a consultant and writer of books, and has also joined the board of directors of The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care. Her guiding hand will be missed.

On June 30, 2012, Bob Yankowitz, Chief Operating Officer at The Bridge will be retiring after an 11-year tenure there. In his role as COO, Bob supervised all of The Bridge’s senior program managers (clinical, housing, vocational, community case management), supporting them and their programs, and always promoting the highest quality services for Bridge clients. Bob will also be missed at Coalition meetings and on the many committees and task forces he has served on.

Kenneth Pople
r, PhD, MBA, announced his retirement as President and CEO of Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS) effective July 31, 2012. Ken has run SIMHS for 31 years and is credited with piloting the West Brighton-based children's mental health services agency from modest size and scope to its current status as one of the largest and most respected children's mental health service providers in New York City and State. Read more about Dr. Popler’s illustrious career in the New York Nonprofit Press (NYNP) and the Staten Island Advance. Ken is a past President and longtime Officer of The Coalition. He has deeply affected our work and policy strategies. We will miss him.

And we also have some “non-retirement” news circulating around The Coalition.

Eli B. Hoch, Ph.D., LCSW has been named Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health Services at the Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS). In his new capacity, Hoch will oversee SIMHS' 10 Staten Island-based mental health programs for children, teenagers, and families. He succeeds Nathalie Weeks, who held the position for 12 years.

Mental Health Association (MHA) of Westchester is hostingGet on Your Mat for Mental Healthon Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm. This is an outdoor yoga event to celebrate the connection between breath and yoga and community on mental health and wellness. Accompanied by inspiring, live music, you will take your first breath of summer in wonderful company, drawing on the full force of the sun to find an island of calm amidst the cacophony of the city. This one hour class will be led by Gwen Lawrence, team yoga teacher for the New York Giants, Knicks and Rangers.

On Thursday, June 7, the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Behavioral Health Center held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of its new location in Jackson Heights, Queens. The Behavioral Health Center houses two of Catholic Charities programs: a mental health clinic and a Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program. The Catholic Charities Behavioral Health Center offers an array of services that provide those struggling with mental illnesses the support they need to get back on their feet.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
6501 Director, Quality Measurement & Improvement

Creative Arts Therapists (One in Music and one in Drama)


Part Time Office Manager


Patient Account Representative

6511 Clinical Director of Psychiatric Services
6515 Licensed Clinical Social Worker




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