"People First" Coordinated Care Listening Forum Schedule at York College in Queens on June 6th

State Agencies Seek to Improve Coordination of Care Across Respective Systems

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 - New York State Commissioners Diana Jones Ritter, of the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD); Richard F. Daines, M.D., of the Department of Health (DOH); Karen Carpenter-Palumbo, of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS); and Michael F. Hogan, Ph.D., of the Office of Mental Health (OMH) will be conducting the second of five "People First" Coordinated Care Listening Forums on June 6, 2007 from Noon until 2:00 P.M. at York College, City University of New York in Queens.

The "People First" Coordinated Care Listening Forums were first announced by Governor Eliot Spitzer on April 26, 2007 as part of the Governor's efforts to focus New York's systems of care on the people they serve and to develop methods of improving and coordinating support for people who have needs across the four systems. The forums started in New Paltz and the Commissioners will travel New York State to gain grassroots input from people in order to develop a more seamless and collaborative system of care.

OMRDD Commissioner Diana Jones Ritter said, "These forums are giving us more insight into the cross-agency needs of real people in our state. All of Governor Spitzer's cabinet is committed to working together to improve the access to and the quality of services for our citizens. Together, we will achieve the Governor's vision of One New York. By listening to the voice of the people we will create a more seamless system of supports and services and assure that New Yorkers with mental health, developmental disabilities, alcohol and substance abuse addictions and other conditions get the care and treatment they need."

DOH Commissioner Richard F. Daines said, "Access to appropriate, high-quality care is our goal for all New Yorkers in need. Often the people using these services are in the best position to advise us on the changes they need. I look forward to hearing from the people in their communities to spark the innovative solutions we seek."

OMH Commissioner Michael F. Hogan, Ph.D. said, "Governor Spitzer's vision is for a health system that is person-centered, not focused on the needs of institutions. We face that challenge within each of the service systems represented here, and additionally we must break down the 'silos' that create barriers to integrated care. We know that mental health is critical to overall health, but also that mental health recovery requires overall wellness."

OASAS Commissioner Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo said, "Just as New York's citizens are diverse, so are its health care concerns. Approximately 1.8 million New Yorkers suffer from a chemical dependence problem, and tens of thousands of those people have other health problems that cross multiple systems of care. The people taking part in our People First forums are helping us make a difference in New York to coordinate and improve care and to improve the lives of New Yorkers."

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene for New York City said, "We salute our state partners for this important step. When different parts of our health system fail to communicate, patients suffer. For example, substance abuse and mental illness are often so closely inter-related that it's impossible to identify either as the primary problem. Yet our health care system still rejects dual diagnoses. People with mental illness and substance abuse disorders may have to navigate two, three or four systems instead of one. Integrated care is more effective care. And through this forum, we affirm our commitment to making it a reality."

Thomas MacGilvray, Director of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, Division of Community Mental Hygiene Services said, "While licensing and much of our funding originates in Albany, all services play out on the local level, and that's why we're encouraged to see that the Governor's Office and the new Commissioners have initiated this listening tour. When State Commissioners work together and work with us, it pays big dividends for the clients we all serve."

York College President Marcia Keizs said, "How exciting it is to have this historic event on the campus of York College with these four distinguished commissioners and their colleagues. Health Care is an area we care deeply about and it's one of our academic disciplines. We are sure that your "People First" Forums will touch the lives of many in New York City who have so much to say as we are home to a diverse population that has needs across all referenced systems of care on your program."

The Queens Forum is the second in a series of public listening forums being conducted around the state between May and July of this year. The first of these forums was held in New Paltz on May 14, 2007, and was an overwhelming success, with the live audience of some 400 people indicating that while they were somewhat satisfied with some of the services they were receiving, there was room for improvement. Approximately 1,000 additional individuals watched the forum through Webstreaming on the Internet. Participants felt optimistic about the future of collaborative care in New York State based vision and mission of the public forums.

Additional "People First" Coordinated Care Listening Forums will be held as follows:

  • June 19, 4-6 p.m., Research Studies Center, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, corner of Elm and Carlton streets, Buffalo.
  • June 20, 2-4 p.m., Lafayette Theater in the Renaissance Hotel, 701 E. Genesee St., Syracuse.
  • July 13, 1-3 p.m., Stafford Center for Arts and Technology, Clinton County Community College, 136 Clinton Point Drive, Plattsburgh.

The "People First" forums will be webcast live on the Internet. Links for viewing are available on each of the agency Web sites listed below. Driving directions for each Forum location are also available at these Web sites:

People who are unable to attend, but wish to provide feedback for any of the four commissioners involved in the "People First" Coordinated Care Listening Forums may do so by sending an email to any one of the following addresses: