KINGSTON, N.Y. -- Sharon Miller is the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley's psychiatric emergency department manager. She said that, each month, the department sees about 50 to 60 people who are having suicidal thoughts.

“People who we have concern about because they are very high risk for suicide, those people get admitted to our inpatient unit,” said Miller. “But people with lower risk get discharged from the psychiatric emergency department with a follow-up plan.”

Miller said following up is key in saving someone’s life. So HealthAlliance is working with the Institute for Family Health to get to people more quickly.

Previously, a person would have a follow-up appointment within three to five days of being discharged, but wouldn’t necessarily hear from someone while waiting for that appointment. But now, a licensed mental health counselor from the Institute for Family Health calls all patients within 48 hours of being discharged "specifically to find out how they're feeling,” said Miller. “If they have any increase or decrease in their SI, what other services they might need."

Hospital representatives said in 2014, New York had the fifth highest number of suicide deaths in the country. While Ulster County is comparable to other Hudson Valley counties, hospital representatives said they want to stay ahead of the issue while showing patients they care.

"To build faith and trust in the health care system is another thing that we think is a positive outcome of this study so far,” said Miller.  

The pilot program is for three years. Officials are hopeful it will be a success.