Molinaro Appoints Acting Mental Hygiene Commissioner

Molinaro Appoints Acting
Mental Hygiene Commissioner

Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro has appointed Margaret Hirst, LCSWR as Acting Commissioner for the Department of Mental Hygiene, following the retirement of Dr. Kenneth Glatt, who served more than 35 years as Dutchess County’s longest-serving Mental Hygiene commissioner.

The Departments of Mental Hygiene and the Department of Health are in the process of merging into one department – the Department of Behavioral and Community Health (DBCH), which will provide a more holistic, comprehensive approach to health and mental hygiene services. Ms. Hirst will serve as the Acting Commissioner for Mental Hygiene until a DBCH commissioner is selected; a national search for that position is currently underway.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Margaret Hirst’s professional career has been dedicated to providing quality care to Dutchess County residents dealing with behavioral health issues. The Department of Mental Hygiene has made tremendous strides in recent years to even better serve the local community, continuing to ensure high-quality care. I’m confident Margaret will continue that trend and lead the department successfully during this transition into the new Department of Behavioral and Community Health. Margaret’s decades of experience will serve her well in this new role, and county residents will benefit from her vast knowledge and compassion.”

The Department of Mental Hygiene plans for, develops, oversees, and provides, in conjunction with allied agencies, a comprehensive and integrated array of services and programs to meet the mental-hygiene needs of the county citizens throughout their lives. In carrying out this mission, the department strives to ensure the resulting public mental-hygiene system is responsive, accessible, affordable, cost-effective, patient-centered, recovery-oriented and dedicated to continuous quality improvement.

Ms. Hirst has served Dutchess County Government for more than 35 years. Most recently, since 2013, she served as the department’s Division Chief for Clinical Services, responsible for the clinical and administrative operation of three formerly separate clinical divisions: Mental Health, Chemical Dependency, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Ms. Hirst also serves as the county’s Director of Community Services (DCS), as required by New York State Mental Hygiene Law, Article 41. The DCS oversees, plans, and advocates for services for the mentally ill, chemically dependent and intellectually and developmentally disabled. The DCS also develops the Local Governmental Plan, which identifies outstanding needs in the areas of prevention, treatment and recovery, encourages the developmental of services to ensure adequate programs are available for these individuals and monitors ongoing services to ensure quality of care.

She began her tenure with Dutchess County in 1978 as a clinical unit administrator for the department’s Case Management Unit and was promoted in 1992 to serve as the Clinical Division Chief for Developmental Disabilities. In 2001, Ms. Hirst received a promotion to Clinical Division Chief for Chemical Dependency Services, where she served until being promoted to her most recent post.

Throughout her service with the Department of Mental Hygiene, Ms. Hirst has been instrumental in the assessment and development of programs and services within the local community, among other duties.

Ms. Hirst said, “This new opportunity is an exciting one, and I’m honored the County Executive is confident in my ability to lead the department. County Executive Molinaro has worked with state leaders to ensure Dutchess County expanded the high-quality mental-health services our residents deserve at no increase to county taxpayers. I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue providing these services to our neighbors who need them.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Marymount College in 1972, Ms. Hirst received her master’s degree in social work from Adelphi University in 1975. She worked as a social worker at Vassar Brothers Hospital and Wassaic Developmental Center prior to joining Dutchess County government.

County Executive Molinaro has forwarded a resolution to confirm the appointment as Acting Commissioner of Mental Hygiene to the Dutchess County Legislature, which will vote on her appointment during its July 13th meeting.

Author: Harlem Valley News