Model Community-Based Treatment Program Reduces Hospitalization and Jail Time Among People with Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Establishing a forensic psychiatry clinic and transitional housing for people with chronic mental illness and chemical abuse

Project Link, directed by Steven Lamberti, MD, is a consortium of six community service organizations in Monroe County, N.Y., working to reduce repeated hospitalizations and incarcerations among a population of clients with the dual diagnoses of severe mental illness and substance abuse. The lead agency is the University of Rochester Strong Ties Community Support Program.

From August 1997 to July 2002, Project Link established a Mobile Treatment Team, which treated 83 patients during the funding period, and a Mental Illness and Chemical Abuse (MICA) Treatment Residence, which treated 41 of those patients.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships (LFP) program. LFP is a national matching-grant program that seeks to stimulate innovative, community-based projects to improve the health and health care of underserved and vulnerable populations.

Key Findings: Project Link staff conducted an evaluation of the program by studying a subgroup of 44 clients who had completed one full year in Project Link. It found:

  • A mean reduction in yearly hospital days per client to 88 days from 114.
  • A mean reduction in yearly jail days per client to 45 days from 104 days.
  • An average reduction in direct service and residential costs per client to $34,360 after a year of enrollment in Project Link from $73,878 in the year before Project Link.