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Three from Upstate tapped for regional pediatric mental health task force

Three from Upstate tapped for regional pediatric mental health task force

“The burden of behavioral health problems in children is enormous, and is not being addressed adequately anywhere in the country,” said Thomas Welch, MD, medical director at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. “Like pediatricians throughout the United States, the staff of the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital recognizes this fact. Indeed, we deal with it every day. We have and will continue to support local efforts at improving the care of our families. We also realize, however, that there are complexities which must be addressed nationally.”

Three Upstate employees have been selected to serve on the task force. Combined they bring expertise in the mental health field, but also decades of experience advocating for patients and families. They are:

- Robert Gregory, MD, professor and chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is deeply entrenched in the structure for mental health services in our region. He has a fluency in the processes and procedures for connecting patients with the appropriate level of care that makes him a natural fit for this task force.

- Linda McAleer, RN, director, Nursing, Pediatrics, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, oversees the dynamic team of nurses treating pediatric patients in Central New York.McAleer’s role gives her a direct line to the wide range of needs in our pediatric population, as well as where the system can improve to meet those needs.

- Jennifer March, LMSW, is a social worker at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. Marsh is an expert at connecting patients with inpatient placement that corresponds to their needs and insurance restrictions. She is also knowledgeable regarding outpatient services, community resources and the intricacies of transfer from the hospital to a facility for treatment. She works with families while they are in crisis to soothe tensions and provide direction. Marsh also attends community meetings and is a frequent presenter for Hillside, Onondaga County Office of Mental Health and Department of Social Services on the topic of unmet systemic needs of children suffering from behavioral health issues in our community.

In a statement, Katko indicated that this task force is only the beginning of a commitment to providing better solutions for patients. “I’ve made it a priority to start a dialogue on strengthening access to pediatric mental health care in Central New York, and I’m proud to partner with Assemblyman Magnarelli and our many local service providers and advocates to start this conversation, “ Katko said. “Because of discontinuities and other gaps in the care system, young people in our area do not always receive the best available care. In order to treat and build better lives for the hundreds of Central New York families whose lives are impacted by mental illness and substance abuse, we need real and early intervention solutions in our psychiatric care centers, in our schools, and in our community.”