By Andrea J. Wanat, MA, CPP, Director of Behavioral Health

The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has helped to expand essential services that will assist in the overall Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program goals to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations by 25 percent over five years. The additional funding of programs at Northpointe Council and Horizon Village, both in Niagara County, have been identified as essential services that were lacking up North and in the region.

In August, Northpointe Council’s First Step Crisis Center announced that its bed capacity had increased from 17 to 24 beds! This is a welcome addition to the substance abuse crisis services system in Niagara County. At the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, Millennium pulled together key stakeholders in Niagara County to identify gaps and barriers to accessing services for those experiencing a crisis situation. Multiple times, the topic of substance abuse/mental health crises arose to the top of the list as being an area that required additional services.

In Mid-September, Horizon Health Services celebrated its grand opening of the Delta Village location that is serving young adults. The Horizon facility adds an additional 25 inpatient beds to their current capacity to expand its treatment center in Sanborn, NY. Since 2014, Horizon has expanded from 50 to almost 200 inpatient beds.

Mental Health Triage Tool Created in Collaboration with Millennium Partner Agencies

Millennium staff worked with experts in the Behavioral Health field and led several workgroup sessions over the past few months focusing on the development of a universal mental health triage tool.

The first workgroup, led by Millennium Chief Medical Officer Anthony J. Billittier IV, MD, FACEP, researched best practices and set the foundation for the draft tool. Subsequent meetings followed and partner agencies offered suggestions on how to pull together the best tool for our community partners.

“The intention of having this mental health triage tool is to ensure that your gatekeepers and those who don’t regularly handle individuals in crisis have a reference to help get people to the most appropriate level of care for their situation,” noted LaTonya Diggs, MSW, Millennium’s Project Specialist leading this charge. Next steps will include trainings for primary care, behavioral health, and community-based providers.


The Team promoting mental, emotional, and behavioral health paused for a group photo following their recent monthly DSRIP meeting at Millennium offices.

Substance Abuse Prevention, Mental Health Promotion Programming Underway

Along with Community Partners of WNY (CWWNY), Millennium has contracted with 15 community-based agencies across the region who have begun the implementation of essential educational programs across WNY.

The agencies were chosen based on their experience implementing Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) approved evidence-based prevention programs in school and community locations. Representatives from partner agencies have started sessions focusing on topics that include health and wellness and are utilizing best practice programs that include Wellness in the Workplace, Mental Health First Aid, Botvin’s Life Skills, and the nationally known literacy-based substance abuse prevention program entitled An Apple A Day©. Progress on the county-wide public awareness campaign continues and we expect to have more details in the next few months as decisions are finalized with our lead partners focusing on this project.


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