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New SUNY Upstate Program Designed To Help Adolescents With Complex Health Needs

hutchings psych
Jason Chen
The reception area of the renovated Hutchings Psychiatric Center in 2016

A new health initiative will bring better care for Syracuse-area teenagers that have difficult treatment needs and keep them closer to their families. SUNY Upstate Medical University will be working with the State Office of Mental Health to expand in-patient care for youth who have developmental disability and behavioral health needs. The group Access CNY works with such individuals and families. Executive Director Paul Joslyn says a new in-patient program here in Syracuse will give families options if they experience a crisis.

“In the past, families didn’t know where to go especially when an immediate need arose. Children with a developmental disability and a mental health diagnosis are a very unique, very complex situation for medical care to deal with,” said Joslyn. “And that really resulted in local emergency rooms being used even though they are not really the right option.”

SUNY Upstate Medical University will expand a program now housed at Hutchings Psychiatric Center. Children with the dual diagnoses between age 12 and 17 can receive specialized care. Joslyn says such children can have significant behavior issues and benefit from having a program nearby.

“I think a key component to that is family involvement. A lot of time, children with a developmental disability and a mental health issue, there are complexities that can impact their care,” said Joslyn. “For example, communication deficits, and having families there with the child as they receive care can greatly impact communication and is critically important as well.”

Joslyn notes many times families with children that have developmental disabilities and behavioral issues were going for treatment in Maryland or Rhode Island. He adds Access CNY offers programs that can help parents with what their child is going through.

“The family can learn more about mental health diagnoses and how they can support their child. We also offer a variety of services for children and adults with a developmental disability, a mental health issue or both. Everything from a residential program to education support and employment support,” said Joslyn.

More information is at:

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.