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OPWDD establishes mental health treatment unit in Queens

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Moses Kuwema 

The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) today announced the opening of a new specialty mental health extended treatment unit (ETU) on the grounds of the former Bernard Fineson Developmental Center in Queens. 

The ETU will support adults over 18 from the five boroughs of New York City who have both an intellectual and developmental disability and a mental health diagnosis and are ready to leave inpatient treatment.

The new 12-bed unit opened its doors on December 14 and will be a "step down" unit, meaning that while the people being cared for still require a high level of care and observation, it is not to the degree required in an inpatient psychiatric hospital setting. 

People being treated in the unit will come directly from inpatient psychiatric treatment.
OPWDD said that the extended treatment unit will fill an urgent need that has been identified in the New York City Metropolitan area among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive OPWDD services and also have a mental health diagnosis. 

The ETU's opening is the culmination of three years of planning and collaboration among various regulatory and provider agencies including the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County.

"The ETU will be a tremendous source of support to the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who also struggle with complex mental health issues and need specialized treatment before transitioning back into the community," said Commissioner Theodore Kastner, MD, MS.  

"The ETU will mean better symptom management, better care and ultimately a much better overall quality of life both for the people who are struggling with these dual diagnoses and their families."
OPWDD said that services at the specialty unit will be limited to individuals 18 years of age and older who receive OPWDD services and live in the five boroughs of New York City.
OPWDD will employ staff with specialized training to operate the new unit including a psychiatrist, physician, program manager, psychologist, registered nurses, social workers, recreation therapists, occupational therapist, nutritionist and direct support professionals.

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