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County to contract for tele-psychiatry

The Essex County Board of Supervisors.

The Essex County Board of Supervisors. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— The Essex County Department of Mental Health will be using modern technology to help those in need with psychiatric services.

The County Board of Supervisors passed a pair of resolutions on to the full board during its Sept. 24 meeting, the first authorizing two budget amendments in the department (to transfer $14,000 from part-time wages into consulting fees for tele-psychiatry consultations; and to transfer $1,200 from part-time wages into miscellaneous fees for tele-psychiatry consultations) and the second allowing the chairman and/or the county manager to execute a contract with Syracuse University for tele-psychiatry services and with Fore-Front Tele-care for the equipment to link up the tele-psychiatrist.

During the Sept. 10 Human Services committee meeting, Department Director Steve Valley said that the idea for tele-psychiatry services was discussed after not being able to find a replacement for Dr. Hinsman.

“He was our part-time psychiatrist one day a week and he left our employment,” Valley said. “We have had the position posted since then without any kind of response whatsoever. We have advertised the position. I have done a lot of outreach to local providers and resources without getting any kind of a response, so these budget changes will take unused salary that were designated for the position which will allow us to have contracts for tele-psychiatry.”

Valley said that the process for pyschiatrist visits through the department would be similar to what Elizabethtown Community Hospital currently does with telemedicine.

“So basically we will have a psychiatrist from Syracuse University who will be seeing people via the television screen at our offices,” he said. “The $14,000 will be for the contract with the psychiatrist and then the $1,200 would go to Fore-Front Tele-Care, which is the company that will provide the equipment and set the link up between up and the psychiatrist.”

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