Behavioral Health
Psychiatry and Behavioral Services

Half of all Americans will experience a mental illness during their lifetimes. Mental or emotional problems affect every aspect of life. If you become overwhelmed, or cannot function day to day, or become dangerous to yourself or those around you, it may be helpful to seek inpatient care.


Cayuga Medical Center has two Behavioral Services units, one for adults over the age of 18 years, and one for adolescents between 13 and 17. We provide individualized care in a warm, supportive environment. We’re here to help you understand the problems you have been experiencing and to work with you to make your life more manageable.


Our team of professional caregivers will do a thorough evaluation to help determine what is causing your distress and how we can best help you. We will check carefully for any underlying medical illness or biochemical origins to your symptoms. We will then work with you, your family, and other health-care professionals to develop a course of treatment that is right for you.


To learn more about our Behavioral Services program, just click on the links below.

-                       ●  Admission to Behavioral Services

-                       ●  The treatment team

-                       ●  Treatment services

-                       ●  Individualized care

-                       ●  What to expect

-                       ●  The role of family

-                       ●  Going home

-                       ●  Confidentiality

-                       ●  Common signs and symptoms


Admission to Behavioral Services

Admission to both the adult and adolescent units typically occurs when an individual requires a level of care that is not available through community outpatient services. We accept admissions to Behavioral Services 24 hours a day. Referrals may be made by physicians, psychologists, social workers, mental-health professionals, social-service agencies, family members, or friends.


The treatment team

An entire team of doctors, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, and mental health technicians treat the patients in our care. This approach enables us to work with the many different aspects of a person’s psychiatric illness and focus on who they are.


Clinic on the following links for doctors’ bios:


John Bezirganian, MD
Colin Dauria, MD
Auguste L. Duplan, MD
Clifford J. Ehmke, MD
Henry D. Gerson, MD
Timothy Lowry, MD
Askar Mehdi, MD
Syed I. Mustafa, MD
Mahfuzur Rahman, MD

Matthew D’Ortona,, PsyD

Kevin Field, PhD

Rovert Laurentz, PhD


Treatment services

In Behavioral Services, we help people with identifiable, diagnosable, and treatable psychiatric illnesses who are at imminent risk. We treat a wide variety of psychiatric illnesses, among them overwhelming anxiety, behavioral and adjustment disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and psychosis.


Individualized care

Based on the results of your evaluation, we develop a comprehensive treatment plan for you. Treatment focuses on your specific behavioral health needs. You will learn new ways to cope with your illness and the stress of being ill. We will also determine an appropriate level of medication and teach you how to use it to its greatest effectiveness. Twenty-four-hour care during your hospital stay helps ensure your safety and wellbeing.


Your care plan may include individual meetings with psychiatrists, group therapy, and educational programs. We provide:


●  behavioral health diagnostic assessment and evaluation

●  24-hour behavioral health monitoring and supervision

●  medication stabilization and management

●  individual and group therapy

●  recreation therapy

●  family therapy

●  patient and family education

●  discharge and after-care planning


All of these therapies are designed to help you return home and resume your life as quickly as possible. Our discharge planners and social workers will work with you to plan and coordinate care following hospitalization.


What to expect

By its very nature, inpatient psychiatric care is unique within the hospital setting. The days are busy.  People dress in street clothes, eat together, do their own laundry, and interact with peers – because it is out of the renewal of normal life that people begin to get better.


Family plays an important role

When one person in the family suffers from a mental or emotional illness, everyone else in the family is affected. Admission to a psychiatric treatment program is understandably traumatic. Stresses and strains in relationships tend to be intensified. We understand this and encourage family members to express their feelings and learn new ways to cope with their frustrations. We help families participate in the recovery process of their loved ones.


Going home

Before you leave the medical center, issues related to continuing treatment, physical safety, and emotional support are addressed through discharge planning. Links with community agencies are established to help ensure continued outpatient treatment and wellbeing.


Together you, your family, and your treatment team will develop an appropriate after-care plan. Our Behavioral Services Units have solid relationships with a variety of local agencies, including the Tompkins County Mental Health Clinic, Family and Children’s Services, Cayuga Addiction and Recovery Services, Tompkins County Drug and Alcohol Council, Suicide and Crisis Prevention Service, and private mental-health practitioners. We also interact regularly with student health services at Cornell University and Ithaca College.



Clients and their families have a right to privacy. All information about people being treated in our Behavioral Services Units is kept confidential unless we have written consents to release information. We hold information confidential to respect people’s privacy, and we are also required to do so by New York State law.


Signs and symptoms

Some of the common signs and symptoms of mental illness are:

●  Suicidal behavior or threats

●  Aggressive or violent behavior

●  Changes in sleeping or eating habits

●  Severe agitation

●  Going off prescribed medication

●  Severe mood swings

●  Excessive or uncontrolled anger

●  Hearing voices

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