GNYHA continues to work with the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), Office of Court Administration (OCA), Mental Health Legal Services (MHLS), and member hospitals to improve timely access for patients requiring mental hygiene court hearings.

As previously reported, certain mental hygiene courts have a significant backlog of cases waiting to be heard. The backlog can delay treatment and discharge for certain individuals, and consequently stress capacity for individuals requiring inpatient treatment. To address GNYHA’s concerns, OCA, in coordination with MHLS and hospitals, have made significant staffing changes to ensure more mental hygiene cases are heard. OCA has thus worked with presiding mental hygiene part judges and OCA staff to extend hours of operation at New York City Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, one of the busiest mental hygiene parts, which hears cases from several New York City hospitals. As a result, hospitals and MHLS report substantial reductions in cases being adjourned, resulting in more timely treatment or discharge of certain patients and more efficient use of hospital resources used to transport patients and testify at NYC H + H/Bellevue hearings.

In addition, stakeholders agreed to move certain uncontested Assisted Outpatient Treatment cases from NYC H + H/Bellevue to a newly established Harlem Community Court. This has freed up calendar space for inpatient cases addressing retention and medication over objection at NYC H + H/Bellevue. Most recently, audio visual (A/V) equipment installed at NYC H + H/Bellevue and OCA locations was tested to facilitate certain mental hygiene cases being conducted using available technology. A pilot of the technology will occur in the near future with a plan to implement regular A/V use in the fall. GNYHA also recently attended a meeting in Westchester County to explore the use of similar A/V technology.

GNYHA will continue to keep members appraised of activities and opportunities to implement efficiencies in additional regions of the State.