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Press Release

Ellis ER is first to become a Certified Autism Center

Thursday, June 4, 2020

SCHENECTADY, NY – The Emergency Room at Ellis Hospital is the first in the nation to earn the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation, granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).

“All of us at Ellis Medicine are proud of this first,” said Dr. Rob McHugh, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, “but this goes way beyond being first. The real importance here is that we were able to take this step toward improving the ER experience for those on the spectrum. The healthcare profession always strives to continuously improve care for all. Through our training to help our staff better understand the unique needs of individuals with autism, our aim is to turn that understanding into better healthcare outcomes.”

The CAC designation requires staff to complete autism training and certification, as well as an onsite review to make accommodations for patients with sensory needs. The certification was the first step in New York Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara’s Autism Action Plan to create acceptance, inclusion and independence for individuals on the spectrum.

Assemblyman Santabarbara joined Ellis Medicine President and CEO Paul Milton and other Ellis officials outside the Emergency Room on June 4 to announce this first-in-the nation designation.

“For those on the autism spectrum, special needs can create barriers to accessing health care when needed. It’s a situation I’ve lived through with my son, Michael, and unfortunately it’s something that’s all too real for many families,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. “Part of the solution is addressing sensory overload and that’s exactly what the new sensory friendly emergency room at Ellis Medicine is designed to do,” Santabarbara said. “These specially designed treatment areas provide for a quieter setting, dimmed lighting and a number of other sensory control measures that can significantly improve outcomes. The specialized training provided for hospital staff will lead to improved diagnosis, treatment and assistance for patients and their families that ensures their unique needs are met to the greatest extent possible,” Santabarbara added. “For children and adults that live with autism spectrum disorder little things can make a really big difference. I’m confident that this funding from the New York State Assembly is a smart investment and this program has the potential to change the way we think about special needs in emergency rooms everywhere.”

“The certification process will also enable Ellis Hospital to provide sensory toolkits at nurse’s stations for patients who may need a distraction or calming tools. The ER department will also have a mobile low-sensory area to assist patients who become overwhelmed.”

“This is an amazing first step toward changing the care and culture in our emergency rooms. So many of us on the spectrum become frequent visitors and miss that key piece of understanding from medical staff, which leads to extended treatment and exam times or even misdiagnosis, ” said Dr. Stephen Shore, an autism advocate, IBCCES board member, best-selling author, and speaker.

"The Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region works diligently to improve the lives of all affected by autism in our local communities. Having the emergency department at Ellis Hospital become a Certified Autism Center™ is a great resource for our community.  The Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region is looking forward to working with Ellis Hospital to improve the experience of children and adults impacted by autism when visiting the emergency department", says Janine Kruiswijk, Executive Director.

For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for education, healthcare, and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES provides evidence-based training and certification programs created in conjunction with clinical experts as well as individuals with autism in order to provide professionals serving individuals with cognitive disorders a better understanding of common needs for individuals with these disorders, new research, and industry best practices from experts in a variety of specialties.

“IBCCES is thrilled to partner with Ellis Medicine and Assemblyman Santabarbara to make the ER experience better for individuals with autism or other cognitive disorders. Our goal is to with hospitals nationwide to ensure hospital clinical and administrative staff can better understand the unique needs of all their patients, including those with autism,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman.

IBCCES also created, as a free online resource for parents that lists certified locations and professionals. Each organization listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.



Delivering The Global Standard For Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs are the only training and certification programs endorsed by the largest grassroots autism organization in the world, The Autism Society of America, and recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.

Ellis Medicine | Newsroom

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