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Dutchess County Commissioner of Mental Hygiene Dr. Kenneth Glatt to Retire after 35 Years of Service

Published: 3/3/2015

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Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro has announced that after more than 35 years of service to the residents of Dutchess County, Commissioner of Mental Hygiene Kenneth M. Glatt, Ph.D., ABPP, will retire at the end of May, 2015. As Dutchess County’s longest serving Mental Hygiene Commissioner, Dr. Glatt has overseen tremendous change in delivery of mental health services, both locally and nationally.

Dr. Ken GlattCounty Executive Molinaro said, “Dutchess County is grateful and countless lives have been improved because Dr. Ken Glatt served as Commissioner of Mental Hygiene. Always putting the needs of the community first, he has led the department through industry and insurance changes, overcoming challenges and providing the highest quality of care to those facing mental health issues. He has been a fierce advocate for those we serve, the staff at Mental Hygiene and the need to end the stigma of mental illness – priorities I share.”

Dr. Glatt began his service in Dutchess County in November 1979, when he was appointed by then-County Executive Lucille Pattison. As Commissioner, Dr. Glatt has been responsible for planning, evaluating, and coordinating community-based programs and services to the mentally disabled throughout Dutchess County. He has overseen the development and fiscal administration of the Department of Mental Hygiene’s annual budget, as well as the annual local services plan, linking the county mental health system with that of the state and other relevant human services agencies.

During his three-and-a-half decades of service, Dr. Glatt has led the Dutchess County Department of Mental Hygiene (DMH) through significant change, including periods of both growth and consolidation. Throughout all the changes, DMH has remaining focused on its mission of providing high quality care to the public sector patient, with a commitment to the three A’s: Accessibility, Affordability and Accountability.

Dr. Glatt notes, “Our goal has always been to be as good, as fair, as respectful, as one can be – providing the same dignity to the public patient as if they could afford to be served in the private sector. Together with our community partners, we continue to provide high quality mental hygiene services to those who need them – without waiting lists and regardless of the patients’ ability to pay.”

DMH saw tremendous growth in the 1980s, as the national mental health system shifted away from state hospitals, where patients were often considered to be “warehoused,” and toward community based services. New York State began closing many of its state hospital and provided funding dollars for community programming. Home to three state hospitals, Dutchess County responded to the need for community services and was considered to be one of the largest providers of community mental health services in the state.

In the 1990s, as state funding dried up and managed care was being introduced, there was a push toward consolidation and partnership with the private and non-profit sector. Many of the County’s services were outsourced to community providers, such as outpatient mental health clinics, chemical dependency clinics, and case management services under the guidance of DMH. Throughout this transition, the focus remained on expanding and refining the provision of services to best meet the needs of the community.

In recent years, the mental hygiene system has continued to evolve and the DMH has focused on its primary role: coordinating and monitoring the provision of services to the mentally ill, chemically dependent and developmentally disabled and ensuring a continuum of care for those who need it. Although the Department is smaller today than in the past, services have been expanded and greater sustainability has been achieved for the various programs with a focus on prevention, intervention and diversion. The wide range of county and community programs and services are linked together through the Dutchess County HELPLINE, the County’s 24 hours/day, 7 days/week crisis intervention, counseling, information & referral hotline; which provides residents an easy point of access to all the available services. HELPLINE’s mental hygiene professionals field more than 24,000 calls annually.

Under Dr. Glatt’s guidance, Dutchess County has developed and implemented an array of innovative services to help county residents in need of mental health assistance. His achievements have included installing HELPLINE suicide prevention call boxes on the Mid-Hudson Bridge, as well as other Hudson River bridges. Dutchess County was the first in the nation to install a hotline at a known suicide site connected to a mental health agency. The original callbox now resides in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Recent service expansions and innovations have included the establishment of the Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT), which responds immediately to individuals in crisis to help avoid an Emergency Department (ED) visit and/or support individuals in the community following a brief ED intervention. Since the MCIT was launched in April 2012, it has provided more than 22,000 services to those experiencing mental health crisis. HELPLINE accessibility has also been expanded with the introduction of texting in 2014, and the launch of a suicide prevention mobile app that directly connects users with HELPLINE.

“These service expansions were possible thanks to state funding secured following the closure of Hudson River Psychiatric Center (HRPC). I am grateful to County Executive Molinaro for his advocacy of behalf of Dutchess County to take advantage of that funding opportunity, as well as his pursuit of other state funding to ensure the quality of care in our county was maintained and enhanced,” said Dr. Glatt.

DMH continues to evolve. In 2014, County Executive Molinaro announced plans to merge the Departments of Mental Hygiene and the Department of Health to provide a more holistic, comprehensive approach to health and mental health services. DMH staff are intimately involved with the transition process currently underway, under the guidance of Center for Governmental Research, Inc. (CGR). County Executive Molinaro is committed to elevating mental hygiene and integrating service delivery in the new Department of Behavioral and Community Health. Dr. Glatt’s role in this effort has been critical.

Reflecting on the upcoming merger of the departments, Dr. Glatt noted, “After all is said and done, I have been here for one reason: to ensure that the mentally disabled in our County are treated with dignity, served professionally, and are supported in their recovery. I embrace enthusiastically changes in the way the human service delivery system is structured that foster integration and seamlessness, improve the quality of care people receive, and utilize resources in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.”

Under the new structure, a single commissioner will lead the organization. A national search is currently under way for the new Commissioner of Behavioral and Community Health, and the position expected to be filled by the fourth quarter of this year.

Before coming to Dutchess County, Dr. Glatt held various administrative and clinical positions, including serving as Director of the Outpatient Department for Bensonhurst Mental Health Services and then Chief of Service at Heights-Hill Mental Health Service, both units part of South Beach Psychiatric Center.

Dr. Glatt holds a Doctoral degree in Psychology from New York University, a Master’s Degree from the University of Minnesota, and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkley. He has authored numerous papers for professional publications, with his writings relating to community mental hygiene and suicide prevention. Dr. Glatt has also lectured extensively on managing the threat of violence in human service agencies.

A staunch advocate for chemical dependency prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services, Dr. Glatt has served as a governor’s appointee to several state councils. He has also served on the Executive Committee of the New York State Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, chairing the Conference’s Committee on Alcoholism Services.

A Town of Poughkeepsie resident, Dr. Glatt has operated a part-time private clinical practice of psychotherapy and hypnotherapy since 1977. Following his retirement, he looks forward to expanding his practice and spending more time traveling.

Dr. Glatt concluded, “Dutchess County has always been at the forefront of service for the mentally disabled, and throughout all of the change we have seen, we have never lost focus on our ultimate goal of providing quality care to those who need it. During my tenure, I have been fortunate to serve three very different county executives, and I have learned a great deal from each of them and am grateful for their support over the years. The Dutchess County Department of Mental Hygiene is a dynamic, professional organization. I am very proud of who we are, what we have become, and the help we have provided over the years. It has truly been a privilege to work with a dedicated and professional staff committed to caring for our community. As the Department continues to evolve, I know that commitment and dedication will remain the same. I look forward to seeing the continuing evolution and beginning a new chapter in my life.”