Open letter from our CEO on Ellis' committment to mental health
Friday, May 6, 2022
A commitment to mental health, and a promise—despite challenging times
An open letter to our community from Paul Milton, President & CEO of Ellis Medicine
The headlines on any given day about the myriad impacts of the pandemic can be consuming.
As the leader of a health care system, I see firsthand COVID’s complex and overwhelming effects on hospitals, the people who work in them, and the people served by them.
Ellis made our own headlines this week regarding a difficult, but necessary, decision to temporarily pause admissions to our 24/7 adolescent inpatient mental health unit due to persistent staffing limitations. These staffing challenges prevent us from safely operating this unit at full capacity. While some have characterized this as a closure, the full story was not captured by the headlines. The reality is more nuanced.
Ellis remains firmly committed to our mental health programs. As one of only two inpatient adolescent mental health providers in the region, we are dedicated to maintaining the wide range of services we offer. Frankly, it’s been frustrating. The challenging situation we are in—as a health care provider, and together as a community—is related to the national health care staffing crisis. This crisis wasn’t caused by COVID, but the ripple effects of the pandemic certainly complicate it.
Patient safety is our No. 1 priority. In very practical terms, the number of patients we can safely care for in our inpatient adolescent mental health unit—or any Ellis service for that matter—is dictated by the number of physicians, nurses, social workers and support staff. At the moment, our staffing allows for the safe care of two patients on the unit.
Ellis has been aggressively recruiting to fill critical mental health positions for some time, often hiring temporary traveling agency staff, if available. We are also collaborating with the state Office of Mental Health to ensure the integrity of our programs. We have a plan to quickly and steadily increase the number of patients we can safely serve.
There is a tremendous and urgent need for mental health services, both inpatient and outpatient, and a growing demand for providers. It is why Ellis has made significant investments in our mental health services over the past five years as part of our mission to care for the health and wellbeing of our community. We are committed to mental health. That was true yesterday. It’s true today. And it will be true tomorrow. That’s a promise.
All services located at our outpatient facilities on State Street, including the newly expanded Child & Adolescent Clinic, are not impacted by last week’s news and remain open and ready to serve the children and youth of our community. Our mental health crisis line is open 24/7. *
This community has supported Ellis before the pandemic and through the pandemic. We are humbled by the confidence you have in us, and your unwavering commitment to frontline staff during COVID. The team here at Ellis is equally committed to assuring that our community has the services it needs, close to home, for generations to come. I’m confident in the ability of the team here to rise again to this latest challenge. And I’m confident you’ll be at our side to support us.
President & CEO | Ellis Medicine
* The Ellis Medicine 24/7 mental health crisis line may be reached by calling 518.243.4000, and asking for a crisis worker.
Ellis Medicine | Newsroom
Ellis Medicine Media Inquiries
Media inquiries should be directed to the Communications Department at Ellis Medicine. The Communications Department is open and staffed Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. The department can be reached by phone at 518.232.9288. If you leave a message your call will typically be returned within 24 hours.
All official communications regarding Ellis Medicine are arranged through the Communications Department. We look forward to working with members of the public and media organizations to provide accurate, up-to-date information about Ellis Medicine.
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