Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Associated Press - November 17, 2002
NEW YORK (AP) - Hundreds of psychiatric patients in New York state have been sent to out-of-state nursing homes and adult homes, many of which are unable to provide suitable care for the mentally ill, according to a report in The New York Times.
Over the last eight years, the state has shifted the responsibility for the care of these patients to the out-of state facilities, which in turn receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the New York Medicaid program, the Times reported Sunday.
Two New Jersey facilities alone - in Lincoln Park and Andover Township - have been paid $82 million since 1995, according to Medicaid records.
Some of the homes, including the ones in Lincoln Park and Andover, confine their residents on isolated floors and prevent them from going outside on their own, the Times said.
Roger Klingman, a spokesman for New York's Office of Mental Health, said the homes receive only a fraction of the thousands of patients discharged annually by state hospitals.
``Discharge decisions are made on a case-by-case basis,'' Klingman told the Times. ``It's a clinical decision made by the discharge team at each state hospital. Different facilities offer different types of programs. Obviously, the discharge planners believe that these out-of-state facilities offer the kind of programs that the patients needed.''
Some mental health professionals, however, questioned the state's motivations in exporting the patients.
``The point was to clear beds and to get even these chronic patients out who had been taking up beds for 10 or 15 or 20 years,'' Dr. Alvin Pam, director of psychology at the Bronx Psychiatric Center in New York until two years ago, told the Times.
``Patients might be turned down by 15 residences in New York,'' he said, ``which could raise questions about whether they should be discharged at all.''
Medicaid records show that more than 725 psychiatric patients have been sent to the Lincoln Park and Andover homes since 1995.
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