- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - After six weeks of psychiatric treatment at Bellevue Hospital, 18-year-old Emma Koosis was doing well enough not to need hospitalization. But she wasn’t yet ready to go back to the stresses of school with only weekly doctors’ appointments.

Instead, she took a step midway: “partial hospitalization,” spending her days at Bellevue in therapy and an on-site school and her nights at home with her family. Three months later, she returned to an outside school and now is preparing to graduate next month, after grappling since fifth grade with what was ultimately diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder, according to her parents.

Bellevue “went above and beyond to really help me as an individual,” Koosis said Tuesday as the city’s first lady and others marked the partial hospitalization program’s start.

Fully launched in recent weeks, it aims to treat about 500 children ages 6 to 17 per year, intensifying and more than doubling the size of a previous day program at city-run Bellevue.

The expansion comes as the city administration is spotlighting psychological health, hoping to set a national example. First lady Chirlane McCray is leading work on an expansive strategy to improve treatment. As a start, Mayor Bill de Blasio last week proposed to add over $54 million in mental health programs next fiscal year, rising above $78 million in the following years.

Bellevue’s $1.4 million partial hospitalization option “will bridge the gap between hospitalization and outpatient care,” McCray said.

An eight-person staff of psychiatrists, nurses and others treat children with such serious conditions as psychosis or severe depression or trauma. Some have been hospitalized at Bellevue, which has offered child and adolescent psychiatric care for more than 75 years.

Hospitalizations often last one or two weeks, but it can take longer for young patients to be ready to take on daily life, noted Dr. Jennifer Havens, Bellevue’s child psychiatry director.

“They need a place to go where they can recover,” she said. Patients generally can be in the partial hospitalization program for up to two months.

City-run Elmhurst Hospital Center has a similar program.

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Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.

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