Reinventing healthcare one patient at a time

Press Release

Ellis opens walk-in mental health center for ages 10 to 17

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Ground-breaking Family Room is first of its kind in New York State;
made possible by $712K grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation


The Family Room is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, reach the Family Room at 518.831.8700. The Ellis Medicine 24/7 mental health crisis line may be reached by calling 518.243.4000, and asking for a crisis worker. Click here for more information


SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – Ellis Medicine celebrated a significant milestone today as health care leaders cut the ribbon on a new mental health care program, The Family Room, which is made possible by a generous $712,560 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. This is the latest gift from the Foundation, which has already invested $1.125 million in Ellis’ Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinic, opened in 2021, and the Living Room, Ellis’ walk-in mental health program for adults that opened in 2018.

This grant complements other generous philanthropic gifts to expand access to vital mental health programming for the Capital Region community, including a substantial gift from The Little Family Foundation. In recognition of their generosity, Ellis Medicine also announced today the re-naming of the State Street Health Center as The Mark and Terri Little Health Center.

The Family Room is situated within the newly named Mark and Terri Little Health Center at 1023 State St. in Schenectady, and represents a crucial and needed resource for adolescents, aged 10 to 17, and their families navigating mental health crises. The Family Room will replicate The Living Room, Ellis’ successful walk-in Emergency Department (ED) crisis diversion program for adults.

The goal of The Family Room is to improve access to crisis treatment for adolescents and provide care for their individualized needs in a warm, calming setting. The Family Room will function much like The Living Room, providing a comfortable environment with cozy furniture, soft lighting, and a relaxed atmosphere resembling quiet time at home. Upon arrival, guests will be assessed and if a clinician determines they require medical attention, they will be transported to the hospital.

The U.S. is in the middle of a well-documented mental health crisis and the ongoing need for increased access to crisis services for adolescents and their families remains a priority of the Schenectady Community Health Needs Assessment and the Healthy Capital District Initiative. Lack of access to crisis services for adolescents and their families increases the risk of symptom exacerbation and hospital admission. There are very few alternatives to the Emergency Department when an adolescent’s feelings, uncertainty, and anxiety escalate. Families and friends are often ill equipped to intervene in a positive way.

“By improving access to vital mental health services for all, we aim to build a stronger support network, while fostering mental health resilience and competencies, and ensure that our community’s young people and adults are emotionally able to cope by learning how to identify and respond to signs of mental distress,” said Ellis Medicine President & CEO Paul Milton. “We are confident that The Family Room will be successful in mitigating the crises so many of our youth are facing.”

In 2018, Ellis opened The Living Room, co-located in its outpatient mental health center. In its five-year existence, The Living Room has successfully maintained a 98% ED diversion rate for guests and connected thousands of individuals – who might otherwise have gone to the ED for a crisis that didn’t necessitate medical attention – with supports and resources to develop coping, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills, and learn to manage emotions and/or medications. Likewise, The Family Room will help youth and their families focus on strengthening the resilience of young people and prioritizing personal contact and relationships while promoting emotional well-being and preventing mental health conditions from worsening.

The first of its kind in New York State, The Family Room will serve up to eight adolescents at a time and will be staffed with a social worker, case manager, and peer counselor. Guests will have access to counselling, social supports, and social and medical referrals, or they can simply use the visit to calm themselves in a safe, comfortable environment and leave when they are ready. Guests’ families will also be served and will be encouraged to participate if they accompany the adolescent to The Family Room or as a follow up. A parent or guardian is not required for an individual to visit; however, they may be contacted following the visit to understand and help address the crisis.

“Oftentimes, personal relationships are at the core of the crisis and making the family aware of the situation and referrals to resources in the community for both the adolescent and family can prove to be a viable solution for all,” said Ashley Norcross, Clinical Director of Mental Health Services and Social Services at Ellis Medicine. “Of course, confidentiality is always a priority.”

Norcross noted: “Every year, more than 500 children and adolescents experiencing mental and/or behavioral distress – often on the verge of crisis – present in our emergency room. We want to offer them and their family a safe, welcoming alternative. The Family Room will be a place where families can talk to a licensed therapist, get peer counseling and work with a case manager who will connect them with any community services they might need, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Thank you to Mother Cabrini for providing the resources to make that possible.”

Meanwhile, Mark Little, a retired senior GE executive and current Trustee of Ellis Medicine, and Terri Little, a former schoolteacher, have been active in our community for many years.  They have supported a variety of work, including Rise High, a STEM program for Schenectady youth, which they co-founded with Omayra Padilla De Jesus; Nurses Middle College - Capital Region, a charter high school for nursing; The Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady; Better Community Neighborhoods; The City Mission of Schenectady; and RPI. They have also served on the boards of The Schenectady Foundation, Safe Inc., and Young Parents United while supporting many other community nonprofits.

“It was a natural fit to support Ellis and the myriad of mental health programs that they offer to reach every constituency in our community. We are proud that we are partners with Ellis and other organizations to assure that young people have the resources and pathways they need to be successful,” said Mark Little.

Daniel Frascella, Chief of Programs and Grants at Mother Cabrini, added: “Mother Cabrini Health Foundation shares in Ellis Medicine’s goal of serving the mental health needs of New Yorkers in the Capital Region. Too often, resources are limited and gaps in care can arise. Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is proud to support Ellis’ staff expansion in this area as it strives to serve the needs of its community.”

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation grant covered start-up and operating expenses for The Family Room for its first two years. Additional support is being sought to sustain the program beyond those initial years. For more information about making a donation to support The Family Room, call 518.243.4600 or email

Online donations may be made at




The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of vulnerable communities, eliminate barriers to care, and bridge gaps in health services. Named after a tireless advocate for immigrants, children, and the poor, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation funds programs and initiatives across New York State that either provide direct healthcare services or address the social determinants of health. For more information, visit


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