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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 20, 2013

Coalition Leadership Awards Event is Just One Week Away—Purchase Your Tickets Now!

It’s not too late to join us in celebration of The Coalition’s annual Leadership Awards event, next Thursday, June 27, 2013, from 4:00pm to 7:00pm at Pfizer World Headquarters on 235 East 42nd Street. This is a great opportunity to connect with community leaders and behavioral health professionals who gather annually at this most commemorated event. When asked about this year’s honorees, Coalition Chief Executive Officer Phillip A. Saperia commented that “our awardees are stellar and they epitomize the values and commitments to excellence of the community behavioral health sector. Our recipients: Paul Levine is a longtime leader of The Coalition and a pace setter in mental health services to children and families. Isaac Brown is a highly effective and successful Director of a peer run service agency in Brooklyn. A. Kathryn Power, with a rich history in behavioral health policy and program, is the distinguished head of the SAMHSA Region 1. Rob Kent, chief counsel for The NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, is a leader in the transformation of our system to integration of care. We are proud to be hosting The Coalition’s 2013 Leadership Awards Reception.” Occasionally, The Coalition gives special awards for distinguished service. Fordham University radio station WFUV’s “Strike a Chord” public service program is receiving a Media Award for their work in de-stigmatizing mental illness and raising awareness in the NYC metropolitan area. 

Act now to purchase tickets online and have your ad placed in our e-journal and publicized during the ceremonies and on The Coalition’s website.


Two Coalition Members Receive Governor Appointments

The Coalition is proud to announce that Tino Hernandez, President and CEO of Samaritan Village and President of The Coalition, was appointed by Governor Cuomo to serve on the newly formed Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council. The Council replaces the Mental Health Services Council and the OASAS Commissioner’s Advisory Council. We also wish a hearty congratulation to Norwig Debye-Saxinger, President of Phoenix House on his appointment by Governor Cuomo to the Justice Center Advisory Council. This Council will inform the NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs which will open on June 30, 2013.


City Budget Deadline Approaches, NYCHA Hit w/ $205M in Sequestration Cuts, Coalition Advocacy Persists

With just over one week away from the June 30, 2013, target for the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg to agree on the FY14 budget, it appears that federal budget cuts are impacting budget negotiations more strongly than expected. Recently, the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) testified at a City Council hearing that it is slated to lose $205M in federal funding this year from sequestration. As a result, the agency may have to layoff 500 workers, end Section 8 housing vouchers for 1,200 low-income families and impose rent increases on residents. In addition, NYCHA will close 106 directly operated community center and senior center programs. If the City Council were to rescue some of these cuts, further financial pressures will be placed on restoring funding for human service programs.

With this in mind, Coalition advocacy moves forward. We have wrapped up our formal meetings with City Council Members and are ever-present on the steps of City Hall to advocate for the restoration of behavioral health funding for community providers. This includes $390K for the Mental Health Contracts initiative (a portion of which supports The Coalition’s Professional Learning Center and its curriculum to provide  unique learning opportunities, technical assistance and trainings for the City’s nonprofit behavioral health sector); $1.25M for the Children Under Five Mental Health Initiative which allows 8 community-based organizations to deliver specialized services to children experiencing behavioral difficulties from exposure to trauma like domestic violence or abuse; $2M for the Geriatric Mental Health Initiative which enables 25 community behavioral health service providers to help seniors who are struggling with depression, anxiety, isolation or bereavement; and $2.7M in Mental Hygiene Contracted Services for set of agencies to continue to provide recovery-oriented services for people with severe mental illness and substance use disorders in the community.


Want to Avoid Costly HIPAA Noncompliance Fines and Lawsuits?

The final HIPAA Omnibus Rule became effective March 26, 2013. Covered entities and all Business Associates have 180 days from the effective date (September 23, 2013) to come into compliance with the final rule’s provisions. The new regulations require that organizations be more proactive in their compliance efforts. They require more attention to business processes and additional technological efforts to ensure privacy.

To help you in your efforts, The Coalition's Professional Learning Center is pleased to announce the availability of a set of 38 HIPAA Policy Templates which conform to the HIPAA Omnibus Update released January 25, 2013 and the technical correction published June 7, 2013. These templates cover HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules and include an updated Business Associate Agreement. Go to our website for a complete listing of the templates and ordering information.


Coalition Testifies on NY SAFE Act’s Mental Health Reporting Requirement

The Coalition presented testimony at a State legislative hearing on the impact and implementation of mental health provisions in the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Act of 2013, commonly known as the SAFE Act. The hearing was convened on May 31, 2013, by Senator David Carlucci, Chair of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. Also actively present was Senator David Valesky. The SAFE Act was passed in response to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and includes several noteworthy provisions to strengthen New York’s gun control laws to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, as well as expand background checks for all New York State residents. However, the SAFE Act also contains a worrisome provision requiring mental health professionals to report on people in their care to county and New York City mental health officials, if they are “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”

In our testimony, presented by Jason Lippman, we reinforced how the link between mental illness and violence is a weak one. Only a very small proportion (about 4%) of violent crimes is committed by persons with mental illness. Furthermore, the reporting and building of databases on individuals with mental illness is stigmatizing, violates patient confidentiality, prevents one from disclosing their true thoughts and feelings to mental health professionals and will deter them from seeking qualified help in the first place. In addition, we believe the SAFE Act’s reporting requirement to be in violation of federal and state laws, which already allow for mental health professionals to disclose patient information in the presence of a “serious and imminent” threat, and to a person or entity that can reasonably mitigate such a threat. While a tough lift given the political environment surrounding gun control, we will keep you informed if any changes to the SAFE Act’s reporting requirements emerge.


Four Coalition Members Receive OASAS MRT Affordable Housing Awards

The Coalition congratulates all of the awardees announced by Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez of the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) on May 30, 2013, for 300 new permanent supportive housing units. This initiative is part of Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT), specifically the Affordable Housing Work Group. Among the recipients were Coalition members: Palladia which was awarded $481,900 to open 25 units in the Bronx; The Bridge with a $500,000 grant to fund 25 units in Manhattan; Bridging Access to Care (formerly the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force) will be funded with $500,000 to open 25 units in Brooklyn, and The Guidance Center of Westchester with $460,000 for 23 units in Westchester. These housing programs will provide services to single adults with chronic substance use disorders and other psychiatric and medical conditions who incur high-frequency and high-cost Medicaid expenditures. Many of these consumers have experienced chronic or episodic homelessness, and are presently homeless or at high risk of returning to homelessness.


Upcoming Trainings at The Center

Motivational Interviewing Booster Session

This Motivational Interviewing Booster Session is provided for individuals who attended the Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery Motivational Interviewing trainings in 2012 with Laura Travaglini. More info »

Date:                June 21, 2013
Time:                9:30am - 3:30pm
Facilitator:         Laura Travaglini, MA, LMHC
Location:           90 Broad Street, 8th. floor, Conference Room
Register now »

Dylan's Law: Service Dogs Can Be Critical to Wellbeing

A survey of 1,000 people has shown that 50% of people view a pet "as much a part of the family as any other person in the household." Thirty five percent include the pet in a family portrait, and 25% of married people report that their pet is "a better listener than their spouse." Similarly, people with disabilities of all kinds are finding that a service or emotional support animal helps them in all sorts of concrete and emotional ways. More info »

Co-Facilitators: Pat Feinberg and Jody Silver
Date: June 24, 2013
Time: 1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Location: 90 Broad Street, 8th floor, Conference Room
Register now »


Around the Water Cooler

Kristin Proud will serve as Commissioner of the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). We congratulate Ms. Proud served in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office as Deputy Secretary for Human Services, Technology and Operations. She is a member of the Governor’s Olmstead Cabinet and the State’s Mandate Relief Council. She previously served in the Governor’s Office as the Deputy Director of State Operations from January to November 2007. Previoulsy, Ms. Proud also spent fourteen years in the NYS Assembly, during which time she worked for three Speakers.

Grant E. Mitchell, M.D. was appointed as Associate Vice Chair for Clinical Services in the Department of Psychiatry and New York State Psychiatric Institute, effective July 1, 2013.Since 2006, Dr. Mitchell has held the position of Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health, where he led and oversaw the county’s mental health, substance abuse, developmental disabilities and children’s services. Dr. Mitchell will now manage the clinical services of the three institutional components on the Health Sciences Campus, including services at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute. His Westchester colleagues and all members of The Coalition wish him success in hi new position.

Members on the Move

Effective July 1, 2013, David Rivel will be the Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. David will assume the helm upon the retirement of Paul Levine, who leaves JBFCS after 31 years of dedicated service. In a message to the field, Paul noted that David has 20 years of successful experience running non-profit organizations. David joined JBFCS two years ago as its Chief Administrative Officer/Associate Executive Vice President. During this time, David has worked with the staff and board members to develop a new strategic plan for JBFCS. We look forward to collaborating with David in his new role and wish Paul a fruitful and enjoyable retirement.

Stella Pappas has accepted a new opportunity to be the Executive Director of the NYC BHO at OptumHealth. She will start on July 1, 2013, after 13 years at the Institute for Community Living (ICL), where she currently serves as its Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer. Although we will miss her on our Board of Directors, we look forward to continuing to work closely with Stella in her new position, especially as the behavioral health services system transitions to managed care.

Volunteers of America-Greater New York, has announced the appointment of Claire Haaga Altman as President and CEO, effective July 1, 2013. She will succeed Richard P. Motta, the current President and CEO. We welcome Claire and look forward to working with her in her new role, and wish Richard an enriching retirement. Volunteers of America-Greater New York operates over 90 social services programs in New York City, Westchester County and Northern New Jersey.

Dr. Anderson Torres is now the new Chief Executive of Hispanic Counseling Center, a fully bilingual, bicultural not-for-profit social services agency serving Long Island since 1977. It is the only completely bilingual agency in Nassau County licensed by the State of New York to provide treatment services in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, alcoholism, and youth and family services. Most recently, Dr. Torres served as the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Puerto Rican Family Institute.

FEGS Health & Human Services has appointed three new leadership staff to its senior management team: Gabe Sofos, Executive Director of FEGS Home Attendant Services, Robin I. Grossman, Vice President of Corporate & Foundation Partnerships and Tara Colton, Associate Vice President, Program Development and Planning. You can read more about their talent and experience in the New York Nonprofit Press.

Member Accomplishments

The Mental Health Association of Westchester (MHA) was selected as one of four primary sites for OnTrackNY My Health, My Choices, My Future, an innovative treatment program that will serve adolescents and young adults (16-30 years old) who are within one year of experiencing the onset of non-affective psychosis. MHA will spend the summer hiring staff, participating in rigorous training and providing community education and outreach. The service will launch shortly after Labor Day. Interested in joining the team? Open positions are at “Jobs at MHA”.

Peter Yee, Assistant Executive Director at Hamilton-Madison House and Coalition Board Member, was featured on NY1 last month during its commemoration of Asian American Week. The news piece focused on Peter’s effort to encourage Asian Americans in distress to seek professional help when experiencing crises, especially when at risk of suicide.

The Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS) opened the first “green” mental health center in Staten Island. The “Dr. Kenneth Popler Children’s Mental Health Center” in St. George, is the first in the borough to receive LEED® Platinum Certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the highest level of environmental performance accorded by the Council. The facility is located at 444 St Mark’s Place, and was featured in the New York Nonprofit Press. Dr. Popler was an early member and former President of The Coalition.

Brooklyn Community Services (BCS) and Postgraduate Center for Mental Health (PCMH) received awards from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Joint Opportunities for Integrating Networks in Mental Health (JOIN MH) HEAL17 grant. This new collaboration will be supported by BHIX (Brooklyn Health Information Exchange), who will build an interface with AWARDS, a care management software product of Foothold Technology used by BCS and PCMH. Services for the Underserved (SUS) will partner with both of them, to leverage its relationship with Foothold Technology and BHIX, and bring additional technical expertise and help to expand care coordination for consumers who receive services from each of the three behavioral health organizations.


Coalition Job Board

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

Job #  Job Title
7095 Director of Behavioral Health

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner


Clinical Forensic Specialist


Geriatric Social Worker

7115 Director of Human Resources
7117 Program Director - OMH Supported Housing - Bronx/Queens
7127 Substance Abuse Counselor



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