After receiving criticism for days, Mayor Adams defended the city’s decision to allow for the involuntary commitment of severely mentally ill homeless New Yorkers, saying the decision had spurred “creative energy” and fresh perspectives on mental health.
Adams’ proposal, unveiled last Tuesday, has its detractors who claim that there aren’t enough hospital beds designated for psychiatric patients to support it.
They claim that this shortage of beds will lead to a revolving door where the police detain the mentally ill and transport them to hospitals for treatment only to have them released without receiving a full diagnosis.
Adams disputed that claim on Monday, claiming that his announcement had generated “creative energy” that had caused new ideas to come to City Hall from all over the country.
Adams’ new policy aims to clarify a state law that permits the government to forcibly remove mentally ill people who pose a risk to themselves or others from the public.
“The starting point was for us to say we’re not accepting this anymore,” Adams said.
“And now we’re getting professionals all over the country who are reaching out to us to say, ‘We want to help.’ We believe there are some real solutions to deal with the bed issues, there are some real solutions to deal with the hospitals. And we’re going to start implementing and rolling those out. We know this is a Herculean task,” Adams added.
Although Adams’ initiative has the support of his organization, Kenneth E. Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents hospitals in the city and region, said his organization would not commit to a specific number of psych beds to address the issue that the policy seeks to address.
“We are going to work steadfastly with this administration to make this a reality,” Raske said.
“Of course, there are hurdles. There are hurdles in everything. Those hurdles could be reimbursement issues, capacity expansion, and what have you. I told the mayor this morning that we are very much committed to his initiative. And, by George, we’re going to make it work,” Raske added.