Maria Cristalli, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hillside, today issued a statement of support for New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s recommendations concerning the reform and expansion of statewide telehealth services. The recommendations were introduced by Gov. Cuomo’s Reimagine New York Commission and featured in the recent State of the State Address.

Telehealth uses electronic information and telecommunication technologies to enable individuals and families to receive a wide range of services from care providers at distant locations. Use of telehealth has increased significantly over the last decade, including among youth and families served by Hillside. The technology has proven particularly valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic, when health and safety needs have sharply limited face-to-face interactions of all kinds.

A recently completed New York State pilot program confirmed that telehealth was a safe, effective tool in expanding access to high-quality health and behavioral health care. Based on those findings, the ReImagine New York Commission recommended that families with children who need mental health services should be allowed to decide the best method of receiving those services, either through remote access in their home or via face-to-face visits with their providers. Other recommendations included the establishment of consistent reimbursement schedules for the same services, whether they are delivered remotely or in-person; making family and youth peer advocates eligible for provider service via telehealth; eliminating outdated regulatory prohibitions that current impact telehealth service delivery; and removing outdated location requirements.

In response to these recommendations, Cristalli issued the following statement:
“Hillside strongly supports the State’s endorsement of telehealth and telemental health services, which demonstrated that care provided via this method to be a safe, effective tool in expanding access to quality health and behavioral health care. Family members report that they are more engaged with their child’s treatment team when they have the option to do so via telehealth. Our workforce is pleased with the added flexibility of working remotely from home sometimes and being in the clinical office space some of the time. Worker satisfaction is important in a field where 35% worker turnover is common.”

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