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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
                    March 20 , 2013

Tino Hernandez of Samaritan Village Elected as New Coalition President

We are very pleased to announce the election of Tino Hernandez, President and CEO of Samaritan Village, as the new President of The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies. Tino was elected to his first term along with the re-election of the ranking Officers that comprise the rest of The Coalition’s Executive Committee: Vice President William Witherspoon, Executive Director of Upper Manhattan Mental Health Center; Treasurer Roy Leavitt, President and CEO of Greenwich House; and Secretary Peter Beitchman, Executive Director of The Bridge. Donna Colonna, President and CEO of Services for the Underserved (SUS), will continue to serve on the Executive Committee as The Coalition’s Immediate Past President.

Tino’s extensive and accomplished career in human services (both in and outside of government) will be an asset to The Coalition’s leadership, especially as we navigate the transformation to managed and integrated care. Tino was appointed as President and CEO of Samaritan Village in December 2008. Please join us in congratulating Tino, our Executive Committee and the election of our five newest Board Members: Joe Krasnansky, Director at the Lower Eastside Service Center; Peg Moran, Senior Vice President at FEGS; Jean Newburg, Executive Director of Weston United; Debbie Pantin, Vice President of Housing, Outpatients & Centralized Services at Palladia; and Jenna Tine, Vice President at Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey.

At The Coalition’s Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, March 14, 2013, Donna Colonna passed the gavel to Tino Hernandez, who later appointed four members to the Coalition’s Executive Committee: Pat DePetris, Chief Operating Officer at Steinway Child & Family Services; Nancy Harvey, Executive Director of Service Program for Older People (SPOP), Dan Johansson, Executive Vice President / CEO of Association for Rehabilitative Case Management and Housing; and Hannah Kinn, Executive Director of The League Treatment Center.


Coalition Hits Albany as One-House Budget Bills Emerge

Last week, a delegation of Coalition members and staff arrived in Albany for our annual Advocacy Day visits. We met with representatives from the Executive Chamber, OMH, OASAS and key members in leadership positions in the Legislature. An overarching concern among our 2013-14 Executive Budget priorities is the movement of behavioral health towards managed and integrated care. We of course conceptually support these changes, but want to preserve the standard setting and policymaking authority of OMH and OASAS in the new system. We believe that these State agencies have the experience and accumulated know how to oversee the provision of services to vulnerable populations with severe mental illness and substance use disorders.

We also highlighted the ongoing implementation issues and concerns we have with Health Homes and the need for infrastructure and development assistance as proposed in the Executive Budget. We are thankful that the Assembly approved the $15 million initiative to support Health Homes in its one-house budget bill, and hope that the Senate will reconsider and support this much needed proposal. Coalition members, in various consortia, have invested a tremendous amount of resources in preparation for care coordination in Health Homes.

While In Albany, The Coalition also backed the full provision of the MRT Supportive Housing Fund. In the Executive Budget, $91 million was proposed by Governor Cuomo to sustain and develop a number of supportive housing initiatives for high need individuals in the Medicaid program who lack stable housing. The MRT Affordable Housing Work Group recommended the allocation of these dollars, as housing is a critical component for achieving health outcomes and the goals of the larger MRT. We are grateful that the Assembly has approved full funding for this proposal in its one-house budget bill. However, the Senate has voted to cut the MRT Supportive Housing Fund by $25 million. A reduction of this magnitude would not only put off better and more coordinated care for people with complex care needs, but delay the State savings generated from having supportive housing and appropriate care delivered in the community.

The Coalition fully supports Governor Cuomo’s proposal in the Executive Budget to permanently exempt certain social worker and mental health professionals from licensure requirements. This is absolutely necessary in order to protect the State and consumers from the impacts of serious workforce shortages and service cuts that would result if the exemption were not in place. Although both houses have voted to support a three year extension of the exemption from licensure, The Coalition is still pushing for a permanent fix. In addition, we asked our legislators to support two measures: 1) exempt mental health practitioners from the corporate practice ban, a status that has been granted to other professionals such as audiologists; and 2) narrow the restricted scope of practice for social work and other mental health professions.

The Coalition is deeply concerned about the Executive Budget proposal to sunset in 2015 the requirement that Medicaid managed care plans pay rates for OMH and OASAS clinic services that are equivalent to APG formulated amounts. We are pleased that both the Senate and Assembly voted to support an extension of the proposed sunset for two years until 2017. In addition, the Assembly included language in its bill to conduct a two year study on early outcomes associated with the implementation of managed care. It includes metrics on access to care, continuity of care and network adequacy. We strongly support the study and are hopeful that the Senate and Executive Branch support a full analysis of the system before the sunset of the APG rates.

Finally, we are dismayed over the Executive Budget’s proposed repeal of prescriber prevails in Medicaid managed care plans, but are gratified that both houses have taken measures to preserve it. The Assembly rejected the Executive Budget proposal to eliminate prescriber prevails for antipsychotics, and the Senate went further, restoring prescriber prevails for all drug classes in Medicaid managed care plans. A more detailed list of advocacy items can be found in The Coalition’s one-page handout and budget testimony. Lawmakers in Albany hope to have the budget passed by Thursday, March 21st. Stay tuned for further developments.


New Member Announcements

The Coalition is proud to welcome our newest members: The Mental Health Association (MHA) of Rockland County, Human Development Services of Westchester, and Partners for Organizational Excellence. Please read more about the valuable services they offer below.

The Mental Health Association (MHA) of Rockland County  is a private, not-for-profit community agency whose mission is to provide mental health preventative, supportive, treatment and advocacy services to children and adults in their community. Founded in 1951, the Association has established itself as a leader in providing innovative and effective services to the Rockland Community. The MHA of Rockland provides direct service and advocates for legislation and programs, whose mission lives in the prevention of mental illness through community outreach. MHA operates rehabilitative, educational, alcohol and substance abuse, family support, children’s case management, social club programs and more.

Human Development Services of Westchester is a social service organization providing quality psychiatric, rehabilitative, residential and neighborhood stabilization services in Westchester County.

Human Development Services of Westchester is dedicated to empowering the individuals and families they serve to achieve well-being. The mission is accomplished through the provision of housing, vocational services, case management, community support, and mental health rehabilitation services. Each year, Human Development Services of Westchester assists over 1,900 men, women and families to successfully recover from homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse.

Partners for Organizational Excellence, Inc. (POE) has joined The Coalition as an Affiliate Member. POE uses knowledge and experience gained from hundreds of nonprofits for a single purpose: to help nonprofits overcome their biggest challenges, control costs, and further their missions. The new challenges in healthcare mean that return on investment (ROI) needs to drive every provider’s decision. POE can work with agencies to compile and analyze key metrics to find new levels of efficiency in every aspect of their operations, and savings in every area from personnel to facilities to insurance.


The Coalition Remembers Dr. Jay Goldsmith, a Founder

It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Dr. Jerome “Jay” Goldsmith, a giant in the field of community and adolescent mental health. He died on Tuesday evening, March 12, 2013.  Jay not only led the merger of the Jewish Board of Guardians and Jewish Family Services to create the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS) in 1978, a Coalition member, but was also a founder of The Coalition itself in 1972.

During his tenure as a mental health specialist and child therapist, Jay was a relentless advocate for child mental health and possessed a broad understanding of the public policy issues affecting families. His conviction was that troubled children need help rather than punishment. He was sought out as a resource by State and City government leaders at the highest levels. Due to the regard in which he was held, he chaired the Mental Health Committee of the Community Council of Greater New York, the New York State Hospital Review and Planning Council, and the Governor’s Select Commission on the State-Local Mental Health System.

Jay was the CEO of JBFCS during the height of the HIV AIDS epidemic, and he was one of the first to recognize the need for mental health services to people with AIDS. He served on the Board of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Jay remained at the helm of JBFCS until 1991 and his professional life continued long after his formal retirement. His passion and commitment to the field will surely be missed.


Upcoming Trainings at The Center

The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery has two trainings occurring in early April. The first is called Trauma Informed Care, which looks at trauma from the perspective of both consumers and service providers in all aspects of service delivery (i.e. screening and assessment, treatment planning, groups and individual sessions, relapse prevention and discharge planning). Trauma Informed Care will be facilitated by The Center’s Director, Naomi Weinstein, MPH. It will address trauma-specific services as well as the broader concept of trauma-informed care, and discuss the issue of secondary traumatic stress as a natural component of working with traumatized consumers. This training will take place on April 3, 2013, from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm in The Coalition’s conference room on 90 Broad Street, 8th Floor. Register here.

Introduction to Benefits Management is an introductory training for staff new to the subject of benefits. It is designed for clinicians and other staff interested in learning the nuts and bolts of benefits management. In addition, the latest changes in SSA guidelines will be discussed.  Participants will have the opportunity to 1) understand the fundamentals of the Social Security system, 2) comprehend the difference between SSI and SSDI, Medicaid and Medicare, 3) gain knowledge of resources that support consumers in their living and working goals, and 4) learn to help consumers effectively use benefits to support their recovery. Introduction to Benefits Management will be co-facilitated by Margie Staker, CQSW and Patricia Feinberg, MS, Certified Benefits Planner. It will take place on April 4, 2013, from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm at 90 Broad Street, 8th floor, conference room at The Coalition. Register here.


Around the Water Cooler

Dr. Saenger Joins Coalition Staff
Psychologist, writer, and consultant Elizabeth Saenger, PhD, is now Editor-in-Chief and Senior Content Advisor at The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery. We are glad to have Elizabeth onboard and look forward to working with her to advance critical thinking, communication, recovery, and empowerment. 

 A briefing was held in Albany on March 8th by the NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs to announce the appointment of Jeffrey Wise as its Acting Executive Director. Jeff has served as a highly respected advocate for New Yorkers with disabilities for over 15 years. Most recently, Mr. Wise was CEO of New York State Rehabilitation Association, a statewide fellow association, representing rehabilitation providers who advocate on behalf of individuals with differing abilities and the agencies who serve them.  Before that Wise was senior policy analyst with Coalition for the Homeless. He has a law degree from Albany law. The Justice Center is scheduled to become operational on June 30, 2013. We wish our colleague Jeff good fortune in his new position.

Last month, the Board of the Commission on the Public’s Health System (CPHS) announced the retirement of Judy Wessler as its Director. Wessler began her career in public health as a health educator for the American Cancer Society, then as a community health advocate for MFY Legal Services. She was a health advocacy coordinator for Community Action Legal Services, and then Director of Health Advocacy for the Community Service Society’s Health unit. She has served as adjunct professor at NYU’s Graduate School of Education, and has been the recipient of a Soros Foundation grant as well as the author and co-author of many policy-oriented publications. Judy is known as a fierce and effective advocate. Anthony Feliciano is now the new Director of CPHS.

Jeremy Darman, Director of Governmental Relations at the Council of Local Mental Hygiene Directors has accepted a new position at the Office of Mental Health (OMH) working with the Executive staff on Special Projects. Jeremy will be with the Conference through March, finalizing their State budget advocacy agenda. We wish Jeremy well in his new role and look forward to future collaborations.

William Fishbein has joined Fidelis as Director of Behavioral Health, responsible for all behavioral health services throughout the entire organization. Mr. Fishbein is based in the Queens (Rego Park) office along with all of the behavioral health staff. Prior to his new role in Fidelus, Bill was the Executive Director of OptumHealth the NYC Behavioral Health Organization. Congratulations, Bill!

Member News

Hispanic Business Magazine lists Comunilife as one of the top ten health care organizations in the United States. We congratulate them on this accomplishment!

Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA) is moving its headquarters to its Brooklyn office in order to be closer to the programs it runs. Beginning on Wednesday, March 19, 2013, JCCA’s main offices will be located at 858 East 29th Street. JCCA a is a comprehensive child and family service agency that assists 16,000 children and families of all faiths and backgrounds, has 33 programs and 900 full-time staff throughout the metropolitan area.

The Children's Aid Society held the grand opening for its new 40,000 square foot Bronx headquarters. The new site, located at 910 East 172nd Street, features a state-of-the-art health center that will provide more than 15,000 visits per year to an estimated 4,000 children, nearly doubling the capacity of the organization's current medical, dental and mental health services in the South Bronx. The new site will accommodate health care referrals from all Children's Aid programs in the South Bronx, and will provide comprehensive health and social services for children and adolescents from foster care programs at Children's Aid.

Nancy Woodruff Ment, President and CEO of ANDRUS has been selected to receive the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Children’s Residential Centers (AACRC). She will be honored on Thursday, April 11 during the organization’s Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City.

ANDRUS also announced the appointment of Mimi Clarke Corcoran as President and CEO, effective July 1, 2013, as Nancy retires. Since 2009, she has been the Director of the Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation, implementing a $170 million foundation investment strategy on behalf of George Soros' Open Society Foundations. We look forward to working with MS. Corcoran in her new role.

Dr. Amy Kohn, CEO of the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Westchester will be honored by the National Association of Social Workers (Westchester Division) with the Distinguished Service Award at the 2013 Westchester Celebration of Social Work, last month. The award recognizes contributions of lasting impact and the achievements of a lifetime of work on behalf of clients and the profession of social work. Dr. Kohn will be presented with the award on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 6pm at the Davenport Club in New Rochelle, New York.

Jewish Guild Healthcare (the Guild) of New York City recently elected Kim Greenfield Alfonso to its Board of Directors. Ms. Alfonso is the Executive Vice President of the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind (CLB), which serves the Washington, DC metropolitan area. She has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare field, as Senior Regional Director at Merck & Co., Inc, and as Vice President of Marketing for Immersion Medical.

A strategic alliance was announced by The Children's Village (CV) and Bridge Builders Community Partnership Initiative (BBCPI). The organizations will retain their independence but are developing a strategy for effective collaboration and partnership that will enable them to best serve children and families involved with the child welfare system across the Bronx. As part of the alliance, Tonyna McGhee, Assistant Vice President for New York City Community-Based Services at The Children's Village, has been named Executive Director of Bridge Builders. Along with McGhee, Dr. Lisa Gill was appointed Program Director and will be responsible for Bridge Builders' day-to-day operations.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
6917 Creative Arts Specialist

Bilingual (Spanish/English) Social Worker - FT


Fitness Instructor


Housing Developer-Housing and Property Dev. Dir.

6928 QI Specialist
6937 LCSW-Mobile Response Team Director



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