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Northern NY Hospital Reviews Behavioral Health And Substance Abuse Strategies

The medical center in Plattsburgh held its annual advisory meeting Tuesday to provide an overview of accomplishments over the past year and offer targeted strategies for the coming year.  Key focus areas will be on behavioral health and substance abuse challenges facing the North Country.
The annual advisory meeting of the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital set the stage by starting with a poignant story from staff nurse Greg Freeman.  “My brother Mike survived a motor vehicle accident and after years of medical treatments he found himself addicted to oxycodone. I watched my brother fight, calling himself an addict.  My brother took his own life. We lost a member of our family and yet it affected each of us differently.  His two sons cried and said our father will never meet his grandchildren. My father, a life-long farmer, strong, steady, cried and said a parent should never lose their child. For each of us the loss and sorrow was accompanied with a layer of guilt.”

CVPH and Alyce Hyde Medical Centers president and CEO Stephens Mundy says the annual advisory meeting does not usually pinpoint a specific topic, but this year officials decided to narrow the focus around aspects of behavioral health and addiction.  “Partly because of the success that we’ve had with our recruitments in psychiatry working with the university, also partly because of the growing collaboration among various providers in our community it’s just a great thing to showcase.  But it’s also to bring out that these are issues that everybody faces.”

CVPH Adirondack Division of Psychiatry Director Dr. Robert Althoff noted that more psychiatrists have been hired at the facility, particularly those who specialize in two areas: child psychiatry and substance abuse care.  “There’s very few places in the country that have adequate child and adolescent psychiatry and certainly adequate addiction psychiatry. It’s not necessarily a function of the North Country. It’s a function of the fact that any rural place in the United States is having the same sorts of difficulties. That said, I’m not sure that the eight that we’re bringing in is going to right-size the community. I think that the need will be higher. So this is our first step. And then we’ll just keep going until we feel like we’re adequately taking care of the needs of the community.”

Attendees heard reports on various behavioral health initiatives the hospital has undertaken, including partnerships with community organizations.  Champlain Valley Family Services Director Connie Wille outlined joint programs with the hospital that help with assessment and treatment of substance abuse cases.  “A lot of community partners are really working closely with our local hospital and I think that there’s really been a concerted effort to do that over the past five years. I look forward to more collaborations with CVPH as we’re opening up the Stabilization and Withdrawal Center. I think it’s mutually beneficial to our clients and to our staffs.”

The Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital Medical Center is part of the University of Vermont Heath Network.

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