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As Part of Mental Health Awareness Month, NYC Health + Hospitals Announces Nearly 14,000 Patients Served Through Telehealth Behavioral Health Service

With NYC Health + Hospitals’ Virtual ExpressCare telehealth service, patients can speak to a provider on demand via video or phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in over 200 languages

The service added around-the-clock access to child and adolescent behavioral health assessments to meet the needs of the NYC patient population

Services include buprenorphine for opioid use disorder

May 01, 2024

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, NYC Health + Hospitals today announced nearly 14,000 patients received behavioral health care through its telehealth service, Virtual ExpressCare, since the program launched in 2022. Through this service, patients can speak to a provider on demand via video or phone for help with anxiety, depression, stress, burnout, substance use disorders, withdrawal, and emotional distress. Virtual ExpressCare is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in over 200 languages, to all New Yorkers at expresscare.nyc or calling 631-EXP-Care (631-397-2273). NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest provider of behavioral health in New York City. The system provides almost 60% of behavioral health services citywide serving over 75,000 patients annually across emergency, inpatient and outpatient care.

“Virtual ExpressCare is at the forefront of bridging the crucial gap for individuals in need of behavioral health care, nurturing a more resilient and healthier community,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Executive Director of Virtual ExpressCare Erfan Karim. “The enthusiastic response to our service underscores the urgent need for accessible mental health support and we’re committed to meeting that demand.”

“Being able to provide on-demand access to behavioral health services across the city through Virtual ExpressCare is closing countless gaps in services,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Deputy Chief Medical Officer and System Chief of Behavioral Health Omar Fattal, MD, MPH. “The ability to reduce barriers for care is a huge benefit to New Yorkers, especially those experiencing behavioral health issues. This is especially true for folks who need prescriptions for life saving medication like buprenorphine. We are proud to be expanding our virtual options and meeting the needs of New Yorkers everywhere they are.”

“We are dedicated to ensuring that all New Yorkers have immediate access to superior behavioral health services,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Medical Director of Virtual ExpressCare-Behavioral Health Kecia Blissett, DO. “We understand that in our fast-paced environment, it’s essential to have support that is not only readily available but also responsive to the unique challenges our community faces. At Virtual ExpressCare, our team is committed to delivered on-demand behavioral healthcare with compassion that empowers individuals towards healthier and more resilient lives. We believe that mental wellness is an integral part of overall health and are proud to serve as a steadfast partner in our community’s journey towards mental wellbeing.”

Virtual ExpressCare provides patients with immediate access to a wide range of behavioral health professionals, including psychiatrists, social workers, addiction counselors, and mental health nurse practitioners. A significant enhancement to this service is its expanded capacity to provider specialty services to children and adolescents, addressing a crucial need within this population. This responsive on-demand service model is tailored to meet the urgent behavioral health needs of the City.

Those facing medication gaps—like running out of prescriptions with days to wait before a psychiatrist appointment—can use ExpressCare to secure a stopgap prescription, ensuring continuous medication adherence. This is especially critical for individuals who may be facing substance use issues. In an important stride toward combating the opioid crisis, Virtual ExpressCare professionals are able to recognize and manage patients with opioid use disorder, including the prescription of buprenorphine. This approach offers critical support to individuals struggling with dependencies on substances like heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone and is a vital step towards recovery and stability for some of New York’s most at-risk populations. Virtual ExpressCare providers has prescribed over 60 patients with lifesaving buprenorphine treatment.

Virtual ExpressCare is breaking down the socioeconomic barriers that have traditionally obstructing access to behavioral health services for vulnerable populations. Through a patient-centric model, NYC Health + Hospitals is broadening the availability of essential care and treatment, ensuring timely interventions for those in need of sustained care, and actively challenging the stigma tied to mental health and substance use issues. Notably, a significant portion of the Virtual ExpressCare’s patients includes Medicaid beneficiaries (56%), people who are uninsured (10%), and individuals identifying as people of color (60%), underscoring the service’s critical role in fostering healthcare equity and serving the needs of underserved communities.

NYC Health + Hospitals serves patients regardless of their ability to pay. Patients with insurance may need to pay a copay. If patients cannot afford to pay or are uninsured, Virtual ExpressCare will provide care and connect patients to trained financial counselors who can help them enroll in health insurance coverage or financial assistance through NYC Care, Medicaid, and Medicare, with per visit fees as low as $0, depending on patients’ income and family size.




About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.