CDPHP and Ellis Medicine Celebrate ‘Salon’ Saving Medical Center $4 Million Since 2018


SCHENECTADY – The “living room” at Ellis Hospital doesn’t look like a clinical setting.

Furnishings are plush, staff members are relaxed, and on Monday, blue-hued sea creatures streaked across a flat-screen TV. There are coffee, games and snacks in one room; soothing lights, oil diffusers and massage chairs are another.

Located at Ellis Health Center on State Street in Schenectady, the Living Room provides a home environment where adults in crisis can hang out and talk with counselors and social workers.

A joint project of Ellis Hospital and CDCHP, the crisis diversion center has successfully kept 95% of its 3,200 patients from landing in the emergency room since it opened in 2018, hospital officials said Monday and of the CDPHP.

The project, which is available at no cost to visitors, also saved the hospital system nearly $4 million in unnecessary emergency room visits, officials said.

“Ellis is extremely grateful to the CDPHP for sharing our commitment to mental health and supporting The Living Room and its lifesaving services,” said Ellis Medicine President and CEO Paul Milton. “We recognize the need for mental health services and know that many adults in crisis need a place to turn.”

It is currently the only Living Room program in the Greater Capital Region. The building also houses adult outpatient programs and an outpatient mental health clinic for children and adolescents.

Living Room staff members assess guests, find the root of the crisis, and connect them to primary care, mental health counseling, housing, food, and other resources. If necessary, guests can be transported to the emergency room for medical attention.

The center’s laid-back setting and short wait times are well suited to people who wouldn’t otherwise seek help, staff said.

The staff includes a therapist, social worker, care manager and peer counselor, but clients are welcome to come unwind and relax.

Salon supervisor Alyssa Starrantino recalled a recent patient, a man emerging from a prison stint deeply moved by the experience.

“He was just in the waiting room and we had a calming night sky on TV and he was just in tears and said ‘this is the most peaceful I’ve felt in years,'” he said. she declared. “Just to provide a place that doesn’t feel like the intensity of emergencies is huge for people and they notice that often.”

The Living Room opened in late 2018 as a partnership between Ellis Medicine and Rehabilitation Support Services (RSS), with support from the Alliance for Better Health. Its operations have been funded entirely by public grants and donations. In 2021, salaries were covered by the Fondation Santé Mère Cabrini.

The partnership with the CDPHP is essential because the services offered at the Living Room are not universally covered by health insurance, officials said.

The program reduces overall health care expenses by providing an alternative to the emergency department for adults in mental health crisis.

Given that approximately 90% of Living Room guests are Medicaid or Medicare recipients, the program has saved taxpayers approximately $960,000 for the first four months of 2022 alone.

The Living Room serves approximately 95 guests each month, who on average report a 30% drop in their level of distress.

About 50 percent of patients served this year were referred for ongoing mental health treatment with therapists, case managers and primary care providers.

On Monday, Ellis Medicine and CDPHP announced that they would continue their investment in the crisis diversion center. The CDPHP has made a generous donation that will cover the salaries of the four Living Room employees over a two-year period.

“The crisis in mental health care has reached a boiling point here in the Capital Region and across the country,” said CDPHP President and CEO Dr. John D. Bennett. “The demand for mental health care services in our community has skyrocketed, but the supply from local providers has simply not kept pace.

The Salon is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


About Author

Comments are closed.