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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Margaretville Hospital Earns National Honor for Innovative In-Person and Telemedicine Mental Health Program for Students

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MARGARETVILLE, N.Y. (June 25, 2019) — Margaretville Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), has received a national honor from the U.S. Office of Rural Health Policy for an innovative mental healthcare program for students that combines in-person psychotherapy and telepsychiatry in public schools at no cost to the students, their families or the school districts.

The Critical Access Hospital Recognition certificate — one of only four awarded in the country — commends Margaretville Hospital “for demonstrating innovation in the integration of behavioral or mental health initiatives,” the office said in a joint statement with the nonprofit National Rural Health Resource Center, which co-presented the award. The center seeks to improve healthcare in rural communities.

The Delaware County in-school program, which started in the Roxbury Central School District in 2017, now serves some 200 students in the Andes, Downsville and Margaretville districts as well as Roxbury.

“Delaware County students needing mental health services for challenges such as anxiety, depression, adjustment to stressful experiences or attention deficit disorder were often put on long waiting lists or forced to travel long distances, sometimes more than 100 miles, for care,” said Mark Pohar, Executive Director of Margaretville Hospital. “The students who had to travel such distances often missed appointments or discontinued treatment altogether. The hospital is proud to receive this honor for providing high-quality healthcare at no charge that is improving mental health and therefore the overall community’s health.”

Through the program, licensed mental health clinicians from the hospital now offer assessments and psychotherapy in public schools at no charge so the students don’t have to travel and can receive services in the school they attend.

If the clinician identifies a mental health need that might benefit from psychiatric medication, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Margaretville Hospital evaluates the student, prescribes medications if appropriate and offers follow-up medication management.

The nurse practitioner sees the students, their parents or guardians, and the mental health clinician either in person at the hospital or through WMCHealth’s eHealth telepsychiatry program if the student remains in school. A board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla is also available through the telepsychiatry program to provide support and assistance if needed.

The programs are supported by funding from the state and federal governments to improve the quality of care and quality of life in Delaware County.

Margaretville Hospital thanks elected officials in the federal and state governments — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, New York State Sen. James Seward, and New York State Assemblyman Chris Tague — for their support of this important, beneficial program.

Margaretville Hospital is a federally designated critical access hospital, meaning it is a small hospital in a remote, rural area that provides 24/7 emergency care along with essential services determined by community needs.

For more information or questions about the program, please contact Program Coordinator Robbie Martin, LMSW, at 845-586-4332 or at robbie.martin@hahv.org.

Seated, from left: Kim Coppage, Margaretville Hospital nursing supervisor; Nola Macek, mental health clinician; Robbie Martin, mental health clinician and coordinator; Elizabeth Hughes, psychiatric nurse practitioner; and Diane Jordan, mental health clinician. Standing, from left: Mark Pohar, Margaretville Hospital executive director; Kenneth Oclatis, WMCHealth Outpatient Behavioral Health Services director; Susan Linn, HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley grant writer; and Helen Smith, state Flex Program coordinator.