The Albany County Commission approved appointments to the Albany County Mental Health Board at its meeting Monday. Now that the board has appointed members it is approaching the final stages of its formation.

The board will have nine voting members from law enforcement, health centers and government entities to help people receive better quality mental health treatment. Community members will also be involved in the board, Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent said.

“One of the final parts of (creating the board is) making the appointments,” Trent said. “There will still be individuals in the community that will be involved with the board and what we are doing in activities but (those appointed) will be the voting members.”

The appointed members will have terms ranging from 2-4 years depending on the member and what position they have for the first few years, then changing to four years after that.

“There are staggered terms for the first years, and thereafter (the terms) would be for four years,” Trent said. “The two-year term is myself as the county prosecuting attorney. Because I’m coming up for reelection, I thought it was best to take the lower term. I also put Sheriff (Dave) O’Malley since he is coming up for reelection — for the lower term of two years.”

At their next meeting, members will start working to create bylaws for the board and negotiate their funding. Once the contract for their funding has been finalized, it’ll go before the County Commission for approval, she said.

“We will be bringing bylaws and all of the other organizational material next meeting of that board,” Trent said. “The (Request for Proposal) moving on out and forward that will be brought back to (the commission) for approval once we get the contract negotiated.”

According to the request for proposal, the amount of money Albany County was spending to provide mental health care was not being spent efficiently. Part of the cost came from a lack of coordination between organizations. This caused inconsistencies, which in turn ended up costing the county and state more than necessary.

Ivinson Memorial Hospital had 164 patients who were involuntarily detained in 2016. Patients being checked in for mental health issues have a readmittance rate of 10.4 percent.

The board was designed to use the county’s resources to help people who require mental health assistance to receive treatment that is best fit for them. This gatekeeping method allows board members to better assess individual needs, Trent said.

“It’s essentially to assist us in diverting as many cases as we can from the system and getting people more appropriately placed if needed,” Trent said. “If we can share regionally, pool our resources, that would assist with placements when we have acute care and also add patient services.”

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