CDPHP, Ellis Medicine Partner to Combat Mental Health Crisis, Avoid Costly ER Admissions

< Return to Newsroom

CDPHP, Ellis Medicine Partner to Combat Mental Health Crisis, Avoid Costly ER Admissions

The Living Room Projects Saves $4 million

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – June 13, 2022 – CDPHP and Ellis Medicine have teamed up to combat the mental health crisis in the Capital Region community, opening a groundbreaking crisis diversion center that provides individuals with a safe, supportive space for crisis de-escalation.

Since opening its doors in 2018, The Living Room project has served more than 3,200 patients and saved nearly $4 million in unnecessary emergency room visits.

The partnership with CDPHP is essential because services offered at The Living Room are not universally covered by health insurance. The program reduces overall health care spending by providing an alternative to the emergency department for adults experiencing a mental crisis. Savings, by way of taxpayer dollars (since 90 percent of guests are Medicaid or Medicare recipients) are estimated at over $960,000 for the first four months of 2022, with nearly $4 million in savings since 2018. In addition, nearly 50 percent of patients served have been referred for ongoing mental health treatment with therapists, case managers, and primary care providers.

Located in the Ellis Health Center on State Street in Schenectady, The Living Room offers mental health services in a calming, homelike environment—which is the inspiration for its name.

The Albany-based health plan’s generous gift will cover salaries for The Living Room’s four employees over a two-year period.

“The mental health care crisis has reached a boiling point here in the Capital Region and across the nation. The demand for mental health care services in our community has skyrocketed, yet the supply of local providers has simply not kept pace,” said CDPHP president and CEO, Dr. John D. Bennett. “I am extraordinarily proud of this partnership with Ellis Medicine and looking forward to seeing more patient get the timely, affordable care they need and deserve.” added Bennett.

The Living Room opened in late 2018 as a partnership between Ellis Medicine and Rehabilitation Support Services (RSS), with the backing of the Alliance for Better Health. Its operations have been funded entirely through public grants and donations. In 2021, salaries were covered by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

“Ellis is extremely grateful to CDPHP for enabling The Living Room to carry on its vital services for two more years,” said Paul Milton, President & CEO of Ellis Medicine. “We recognize the need for mental health services and know that many adults in the midst of a crisis need a place to turn. The Living Room provides a unique option and a place where people can find solace, a listening ear and the support and resources they need to stay out of the emergency department—at no cost, whether or not the individual is insured.”

Unique to the Capital Region and based on a national best practice model, The Living Room offers crisis diversion services in a comfortable and calming environment—a sharp contrast to the noise and crowding of a hospital emergency room. The program offers those 18 and older assessment, supportive therapy, and referral to community resources. Walk-ins are welcome, as no referral or mental health diagnosis is necessary.

Licensed master-level social workers, a care manager, and a peer counselor from RSS are all on-site although guests are welcome to come in just for a safe space to decompress and relax. The Living Room staff will assess guests, identify the root of the crisis, provide connections and resources to primary care, mental health counseling, housing, food resources, legal and other services, and if necessary, transport the guest to the emergency room for medical attention. The Living Room is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Living Room serves an average of 95 guests each month, who on average report a 30 percent drop in their level of distress. Only about 10 percent of guests return to The Living Room, often for follow up visits with a care manager, however, sometimes facing a crisis.

Offering a relaxed, non-clinical environment at no cost to the patient also breaks down barriers that prevent many people from seeking help. If a guest wants medical help or other mental health resources outside of The Living Room, the full Ellis Medicine network is also at hand.


About Ellis Medicine

Ellis Medicine is a 438-bed community and teaching healthcare system serving New York’s Capital Region. With five campuses — Ellis Hospital, McClellan Street Health Center, Bellevue Woman’s Center, Mohawk Harbor and the Medical Center of Clifton Park — and approximately 3,000 employees, Ellis Medicine is proud to provide a lifetime of care for patients. Ellis offers an extensive array of inpatient and outpatient services — including cardiac, cancer, emergency, mental health, and women’s services.

About CDPHP® 

Established in 1984, CDPHP is a physician-founded, member-focused and community-based not-for-profit health plan that offers high-quality affordable health insurance plans to members in 29 counties throughout New York. CDPHP is also on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram

Meet the Media Relations Team

Ali Skinner: Vice President, Communications Strategy

Today, she uses her journalism background to help patients and the public make sense of complex health care topics.

Ali Skinner
Meet the whole team

Helpful Links for the Media