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Northwell opens Emergency Telepsychiatry Hub to offer 24/7 help

The new facility will provide remote consultations for mental health patients in crisis who have come into a Northwell hospital emergency department. 

Melissa Petrizzo. manager of behavioral telehealth at Northwell's

Melissa Petrizzo. manager of behavioral telehealth at Northwell's Lenox Health Greenwich Village in Manhattan, consults with an emergency department staffer (on screen) at a Long Island hospital. Photo Credit: Northwell

Northwell Health on Thursday said it has opened an Emergency Telepsychiatry Hub that provides remote, around-the-clock consultations for mental health patients in crisis coming to emergency departments at its hospitals.

New Hyde Park-based Northwell said the hub at Lenox Health Greenwich Village in Manhattan includes nine video-equipped work stations staffed by members of a 35-employee team that includes 23 psychiatrists and nine master’s-level behavioral health clinicians. 

The Emergency Telepsychiatry Hub is connected to 15 Northwell-run emergency departments throughout the region. Excluded are Long Island Jewish Hospital, which already has 24/7, on-site psychiatry coverage, and Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, which will be integrated later this year. 

The health system said it has performed approximately 11,000 remote consultations from its emergency departments, including 3,800 in 2018, since it began using telepsychiatry several years ago.

With the new Emergency Telepsychiatry Hub, the program is projected to handle 5,000 consultations this year. The program also provides transfer and admitting services, resulting in expedited access to inpatient psychiatry beds and reducing the number of patients being held in emergency departments.

Northwell added that telepsych service has resulted in a 90 percent decrease in wait times for emergency room patients who need to see a psychiatrist after hours – to an average of 45 minutes. It had taken up to 12 hours at some community hospitals, said Dr. Martin Doerfler, senior vice president of clinical strategy and development at Northwell.

The need for telepsychiatry services is especially great in the evenings and early-morning hours when psychiatry staff at most hospitals have gone home, Northwell said. 

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