Liberty, NY – Sullivan County is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) seeking firms that would be able to provide the programming currently offered by its Department of Community Services (DCS).
“This is exploratory in nature and does not obligate the County,” County Manager Joshua Potosek explained. “We simply want to better understand whether the services DCS provides – which are necessarily costly – can be more efficiently delivered without reducing those services.”
“If we don’t find that to be the case, then we’ll continue as present,” he added. “If we do find services can be given at lower cost without harming those we serve, then we’ll make a recommendation for the Legislature to consider. The State will also have to sign off on any plan that might be proposed.”
“This is part of our serious intent to significantly improve our health rankings. In particular, the demand for mental health services is outpacing our capacity to deliver – and that demand is increasing,” noted Health & Family Services Commissioner John Liddle, whose division encompasses DCS. “If we can expand and improve access to care in a more responsive, flexible manner, I want to know about it. And if that saves taxpayers’ dollars in the process, so much the better.”
“The substance abuse crisis is the #1 issue in our health rankings. We have to get a handle on it for the good of everyone in the County, especially those dealing with addiction,” remarked Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Robert A. Doherty. “Just like with the Care Center, a public-private partnership is worth exploring, as it’s worked well in other municipalities, and our residents deserve the best care we can give them.”
“There will be opportunities for the public and staff to weigh in on any changes, if proposed,” acknowledged District 2 Legislator Nadia Rajsz, chair of the Legislature’s Health & Family Services Committee. “Even if we do go with a particular firm, DCS administration will remain with the County and continue to have oversight of every service. The intent here is to enhance and support our existing services, not to wholesale replace them.”
Firms interested in responding to the RFP should visit https://sullivanny.us/Departments/Purchasing/RequestforProposals.
WHAT IS THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY SERVICES?
Sullivan County’s Department of Community Services (DCS) is a component of the Division of Health & Family Services and is based in Liberty at the County’s Sunset Lake Road complex. The Department provides direct, confidential services in mental health, alcoholism and substance abuse to all residents of Sullivan County, without regard to age or the severity of their situation. The Department is licensed by the NYS Office of Mental Health, the NYS Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services, and the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
WHAT SERVICES DOES DCS PROVIDE?
Via 43 County employees, 3 contracted psychiatrists, 2 tele-nurse practitioners and 1 tele-psychiatrist, DCS offers:
- Individual Psychotherapy
- Marital & Family Counseling
- Group Therapy
- Medication Therapy
- Crisis Intervention/Outreach
- Court Evaluations
- Consultation & Education
- Case Management
- Anger Management
- Psychological Testing
- Treatment Reaching Youth Program (TRY)
- Coordinated Children’s Services Initiative SPOA (Single Point of Access)
- Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) for substance use disorders (Vivitrol and Suboxone)
WHY IS SULLIVAN COUNTY REQUESTING PROPOSALS FROM PRIVATE COMPANIES TO PROVIDE DCS SERVICES?
The RFP is designed to ascertain the best mix of additional government and private services to meet demand. The Legislature is also interested in determining whether these services – the Mental Health Clinic, Care Coordination, and Chemical Dependency Program – can be provided more cost-effectively without reducing programs or negatively impacting residents. Requesting proposals is exploratory at this time and does not obligate Sullivan County to a particular course of action. County leaders will take into account not just respondents’ proposed fees but their experience, reputation, scope of work, effectiveness, ability to provide afterhours/crisis care, and willingness to preserve, enhance and expand existing services while minimizing disruptions in care. The RFP itself is available to view at https://sullivanny.us/Departments/Purchasing/RequestforProposals.
WHAT IS THE TIMELINE? (All dates from June onward are estimates.)
May 28, 2021 – Request for Proposals (RFP) launched
June 25 – RFP response deadline (could be extended upon respondents’/County’s request)
June 25 – Proposals opened
July/August – Proposals analyzed by County Manager, Health & Family Services Commissioner, Director of Community Services
September – Recommendation made to the County Legislature
September/October – Legislative discussion and public comment
October/November – Vote by Legislature, if there is a desire to proceed
Next year (2022) – State reviews and issues approvals
End of 2022/Beginning of 2023 – Contracted provider, if selected and approved, assumes operations under purview of County
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE STAFF OF DCS?
If the County decides to move forward with a third-party provider, County employees of DCS will be kept apprised of the progress and will have opportunities to meet with that provider to explore employment offers. If no offer is forthcoming, employees will be given time and assistance to seek other employment, including potentially in other County offices.
WHO WILL OVERSEE DELIVERY OF THESE SERVICES?
The County will retain DCS administrative staff to ensure appropriate delivery of services, and the State will continue to exercise authority over all facets. If the provision of services proves unsatisfactory, the County will be empowered to take necessary measures, from direct conversations with the provider up to and including termination of the entire contract with 60 days’ notice.
HOW WILL THE PUBLIC KNOW AND COMMENT ON THIS?
Once County officials deliver a recommendation to the Legislature, legislators will take it up in discussion. The Legislature will accept written comments up to a certain date (to be determined), and the public will have opportunities to speak at regular committee meetings and directly to legislators via phone and email. It is also possible that the Legislature will request one or more potential providers to give a public presentation on their proposal(s).