Mayor Adams defends forced hospitalization plan

Mayor Eric Adams has faced heat over his new directive that requires homeless people with serious mental illness to go to hospital for assessment, without their consent if necessary.

It therefore doubled on Monday.

“I wasn’t elected to do an easy job,” Adams told an independent news conference. “I was elected to look at these systemic issues that have existed in the city for generations.”

But despite the promise that there will be a mental bed for everyone in need, the numbers don’t match the mayor’s promise. During the pandemic, hospitals reduced the number of psychiatric beds to care for COVID patients and many of them remained offline.

The mayor asked private hospitals to also free up beds and said many were on board.

Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents more than 250 hospitals, said he supports the mayor’s plan. But when asked if the hospitals he represents would make beds available for psychiatric patients, he would not fully commit to the number or the timeline.

“Psychiatric issues are episodic issues, so you can’t just allocate beds,” Raske said. “The expansion is underway. But will we have to fight other obstacles? The answer is absolutely yes, we will, but we will remove these obstacles.”

The mayor also said there are no plans at this time to report the number of people taken to hospital for assessment, making it difficult to track the success of this initiative.

A City Hall spokesperson told Fox 5 News that at least one person showing signs of serious mental illness last week was taken to hospital but was unsure if they were being treated or linked to ongoing care. .

“Within the limits of HIPAA or other laws, we are not required to report,” Adams said. “But we will try to be as transparent as possible.”

But civil rights advocates push back on the claim that reporting the number of people being taken to hospital for care would violate all HIPPA laws.

“We want to know the length of stay, I want to know if they are admitted, if they are not admitted, if they are medicated, not medicated, if they are attached to services, which services, for how many time, if the city finds housing for them,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said.

Lieberman said forcing potentially hundreds of mentally ill patients into hospitals and outpatient programs without a firm plan in place threatens the system as a whole.

“It’s like potentially blowing up the whole barn because the mayor is proposing, in his own words, to sweep thousands of people off the streets into the already overburdened hospital system,” Lieberman said. “That means people who want to seek treatment in hospital will have nowhere to go.”

Fox 5 News also asked the mayor if there would be an accountability system in place. For example, if someone was taken to hospital when they don’t technically fall under this category of serious mental illness. Adams said the individual would simply be connected to a shelter or other accommodations.

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