The Washington Heights Community Service (WHCS) is a comprehensive community-based program for individuals with severe mental illness who live in Northern Manhattan. The Service consists of a 22-bed inpatient unit at NYSPI and two outpatient clinics located in the communities of Washington Heights (Audubon Clinic) and Inwood (Inwood Clinic). It is affiliated with the New York State Psychiatric Institute and reports to the New York Office of Mental Health.

The inpatient unit, called 4 South, is an acute care unit with an average length of stay of 15-40 days. Treatment is provided for a variety of psychiatric illnesses, with a majority of people receiving treatment for a psychotic disorder (e.g., Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder) or a major affective disorder (e.g., Bipolar Disorder or Major Depression). Given the demographics of Northern Manhattan and the large number of immigrants from Latin American and Caribbean countries, the unit is run on a bilingual basis. Social workers function as members of an interdisciplinary team composed of psychiatric residents, psychiatric attendings, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists and mental health therapy aides. Every effort is made to provide coordinated care between the inpatient unit and outpatient clinics and staff from each clinic attend weekly inpatient team rounds.
The role of the social worker on 4 South is 1) to evaluate the patient and their family to determine psychosocial stressors that may have contributed to the need for hospitalization 2) to provide psychoeducation to the patient and family with respect to all aspects of the patient's illness 3) discharge planning and 4) coordinate provision of concrete services when necessary. Patients are seen daily whereas families are seen at least weekly.
            The Audubon Clinic is located at 513 West 166th Street. The Inwood Clinic is located at 26 Sherman Avenue, NYC, NY. The clinics provide a range of individualized services ranging from outpatient care to day treatment programming.

(1)  Outpatient services: Clients receive supportive therapy, rehabilitative services with a focus on community reintegration as well as pharmacological treatment monthly. Each client is assigned a psychiatrist and case manager / therapist. Family treatment is also encouraged.

(2)  Day Program: This program provides more intense treatment for clients who require contact 3-5 times a week in a supportive environment. Clients are encouraged to participate in various groups with a focus towards recovery and learning independent living skills.

Social workers in the clinics function as primary therapists and may also lead therapeutic groups. They are also part of a multidisciplinary team.

All social workers on the WHCS attend quarterly social work staff meetings at the New York State Psychiatric Institute as well as in-service social work grand rounds. They are encouraged to attend the weekly Grand Rounds of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and weekly case conferences on the inpatient units.

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