NEW YORK (WETM)- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $2.5 million expansion of the first-in-the-nation Enhanced Multidisciplinary Teams Initiative, which protects vulnerable adults at risk of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. The funding, which will be provided annually through September 2022, assists adults 60 and older who are at risk due to physical limitations, cognitive impairment or dementia, and social isolation and expands access to forensic accountants, geriatric psychiatrists/mental health professionals, and civil legal services. The initiative, developed by the State Office for the Aging and state Office of Victim Services, currently serves 51 counties covering 92 percent of older adults in the state, making New York’s program the first of its kind in the nation and tripling the number of teams targeting elder abuse.
“In New York we believe in standing up for the fair and equal treatment of all of our citizens and protecting our most vulnerable populations, including the elderly,” Governor Cuomo said. “This first-of-its kind initiative brings together teams of experts to protect elderly New Yorkers at risk of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, and continued funding for this important program will help ensure these teams can reach even more at-risk elders across the state as well as provide them with the potentially life-saving services they need.”
E-MDTs consist of professionals from aging services, Adult Protective Services, health care, financial services, criminal justice, victim assistance, mental health and other disciplines to coordinate investigations and develop interventions in complex cases of elder abuse. The teams—first piloted in the state in 2012—assist adults who are 60 or older and at risk for harm or exploitation due to physical limitations, cognitive impairment or dementia, and social isolation.
The initial three-year investment that launched the E-MDT Initiative in 2017 totaled $8.4 million. This investment consisted of federal Victims of Crime Act funds provided by the Office of Victim Services combined with a state investment provided by the New York State Office for the Aging. NYSOFA partnered with Lifespan of Greater Rochester, based in Monroe County, and Weill Cornell Medicine’s New York City Elder Abuse Center to manage, monitor and distribute the funding. OVS is providing an additional VOCA $2 million in funding annually and NYSOFA has allocated an additional $500,000 annually for continued support of the E-MDT Initiative from October 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2022.
Teams now cover 51 counties in 10 regions and development of teams in the 11 remaining counties in New York State is ongoing. Services provided to abuse victims through E-MDT interventions include information about and referral to other types of services, such as victim service programs or legal services, and individual advocacy, such as return of personal property, or assistance with applying for public benefits. E-MDT Coordinators provide case consultation on cases as well as access to consultation services such as a forensic accountant, geriatric psychiatrist/mental health professional, and civil legal attorney, as appropriate and available. Lifespan of Greater Rochester also holds monthly webinars for professionals on financial exploitation. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, E-MDTs continued to meet virtually, ensuring continued interventions in elder abuse cases and protections for New York’s older adults during a time when many other programs were paused.