Intensive Mobile Treatment: Assembling an all-star team to help New Yorkers in need
As the Program Director of Intensive Mobile Treatment (IMT) at the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS), Roshni Misra is used to a busy workload. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic began in New York City, she received the opportunity to create a second mobile treatment team. Ms. Misra went into overdrive to make sure both teams were in the field serving New Yorkers at a time of unprecedented need.
This meant navigating the entire hiring process remotely. IMT teams, like the two Ms. Misra leads in Manhattan, provide intensive, individualized care to clients who have had contact with the criminal justice system, may be experiencing homelessness, and have serious mental health needs. It takes specialized experience and ability to serve on the teams, so the hiring process is especially important.
Ms. Misra conducted interviews on Zoom, trained her new team members on top of her existing responsibilities in the field, and also introduced nine new team members to one another, none of whom had ever worked together before. Almost immediately, they were called into action.
When the subways closed for extensive cleaning in the spring, the team engaged a client who had experienced homelessness for 12 years and sometimes slept on the subways. The client had a very serious medical problem, and the team was determined to help him get the care he needed. One team member took him to a clinic and spent six hours with the client to make sure he received testing to better understand his medical needs.
The client went missing in the subsequent days, but the team located him once again. And with the help of Bellevue Hospital, the Safe Haven, and a homeless outreach team, he finally received the medical treatment he needed. Ms. Misra felt proud of the team she had only just assembled, noting that she had never seen people work so collaboratively and well together. Her supervisors weren’t surprised – they believe the team’s success is a testament to the strength of Ms. Misra’s leadership.
“Roshni has a firm value structure and commitment to helping people who maybe have been left out of things in life,” said Julie Lorenzo, Chief Program Officer at CUCS. “She’s committed to social justice and equality and that informs everything she does every day.”
“She’s the best person to run a program like this in a time like this,” added Mary Taylor, Chief Development and Communications Officer at CUCS. “She looks at every person, whether a staff person or a person being treated in the IMT program, with dignity and respect.”
From Ms. Misra:
“I am always proud of the services our team provides, but I have been re-inspired watching my teams’ fierce dedication to ensuring our participants still feel connected. Despite the challenges, the teams have been committed to doing essential visits and figuring out ways to provide care in new and creative ways. Whether it is engaging a new participant on the street for the first time or making sure a participant who was previously receiving weekly visits still feel they have support, IMT is there. Reading a participant a book over FaceTime, delivering groceries and medications, and bringing blankets to the hospital for someone after surgery are just a few ways the team did this.”
AT A GLANCE: Intensive Mobile Treatment
• Full-service mental health treatment teams include psychiatrists, social workers, case managers, nurses, and peer specialists
• Teams serve clients who have:
o Had recent and frequent contact with the mental health, criminal justice, and homeless service systems,
o Displayed recent behavior that is unsafe and escalating, and
o Been poorly served by traditional treatment models
• Currently, there are 11 Intensive Mobile Treatment teams in New York City, with the capacity to serve 297 clients at any given time
• Since 2016, 91% of Intensive Mobile Treatment clients have continued to receive services for a year or more
• Since 2016, half of Intensive Mobile Treatment clients experiencing homelessness have secured non-shelter housing while working with Intensive Mobile Treatment teams