Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital, in Mount Vernon, NY, has one inpatient Behavioral Health Unit for adults, with 22 inpatient beds; the unit has the capacity for 24 inpatient beds when needed. Patients are from New York City’s five boroughs and Westchester County. Of the 22-24 inpatients on the Behavioral Health Unit with mental health disorders, four or five are typically homeless. When an inpatient is identified as currently homeless, a unit social worker applies for them to the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health’s Single Point of Access (SPOA), which helps individuals access residential, case management and Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team services. This application happens within a day or two of inpatient hospitalization, which is short-term. The social workers are familiar with the shelter systems in New York City and Westchester County, and make referrals for housing there. Clinicians communicate to patients that homelessness is highly related to relapse, and encourage people to hold on to any housing that they do have. For the elderly or for those with a physical disability, there are referrals to nursing home/adult home placements. Still, there is not enough housing, there is not enough mental health treatment, and there are not enough psychiatric beds. If a person sees someone who appears to be currently homeless, and appears to be experiencing a mental health disorder, Mount Vernon does have a partnership between the police and social workers, in which there is a social worker assigned to the local police department. Also, one can call the Westchester County Crisis Prevention and Response Team at St. Vincent’s Hospital at (914) 925-5959 for a consultation. Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital is located at 12 N. 7th Avenue, Mount Vernon, NY 10550, and can be reached by calling (914) 664-8000.
Thank you to Alan McCollom, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Behavioral Health Unit, Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital, and Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, for this interview.