CPEP (Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program)

Behavioral Health - CPEP - Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program - ECMC Hospital, Buffalo, NY
Behavioral Health - CPEP - Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program - ECMC Hospital, Buffalo, NY
Behavioral Health - CPEP - Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program - ECMC Hospital, Buffalo, NY

Urgent Mental Health Care at ECMC’s Behavioral Health Center

A hospital-based emergency psychiatric service, ECMC’s CPEP (Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program) is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to treat patients of all ages. As one of the largest CPEP programs in New York State, it serves adults, children, and adolescents in crisis from an entire floor in the new Behavioral Health Outpatient Center.

In addition to our on-site emergency services, the CPEP program includes:

  • Extended Observation Unit for further assessment, evaluation, and treatment
  • Mobile Crisis Outreach – provides psychiatric crisis treatment in a patient’s home
  • Crisis Residency – provides short-term emergency housing for patients with mental illness who can care for themselves
  • Children’s Services, including:
    • Inpatient adolescent unit
    • Mobile outreach for children and adolescents
  • Home-Based Crisis Intervention – a short-term (4-6 week) crisis intervention and family education program


Individuals looking to access CPEP must begin by first visiting the regular hospital emergency room. From there, they are directed to either the adult or child and adolescent section of CPEP for a psychiatric evaluation. Patients may come to CPEP by themselves, or accompanied by family or friends. In certain cases, patients may be brought to CPEP by officials appointed to take them into custody because of risk of harm to themselves or others.

What to Bring

We know that visiting CPEP can be stressful experience. For a more successful visit, patients and their families should try to have the following information on hand:

  • A list of the patient’s current medications
  • Contact information for any psychiatrists, counselors, or other mental health providers currently treating the patient
  • Evidence supporting the need for psychiatric evaluation (e.g. suicide note)
  • Advanced directives
  • Insurance card

Please do not bring any sharp objects or items of personal value (including large sums of money, jewelry, or cell phones). In addition, please do not bring smoking materials—they can be considered unsafe and will be locked up.

What to Expect

The nature of conditions treated within CPEP means that patients and their families can expect certain protocols to be in place when they arrive. Because CPEP is a locked psychiatric emergency department, patient property is evaluated for items that could be a safety risk. Patients and their accompanying family members and visitors will be wanded with a metal detector before they enter the CPEP area. Any items that could be safety risks will be locked up until the patient is ready to be discharged.

From there, patients and their families can expect to meet a team of CPEP experts, including:

  • A psychiatric nurse, who takes vital signs, medical history, and gathers any information relevant to the current issue
  • A psychiatrist, who performs an emergency psychiatric evaluation of the current episode, past mental health history, other health history, family history, social environment, and current status

After Evaluation

After a patient is evaluated, their psychiatrist will make patient care recommendations. Options might include:

  • Admission—The patient will be admitted to the hospital’s psychiatric unit or transferred to an alternate facility. Children under 12 will be transferred to a specialized facility.
  • Extended Observation Bed (EOB)—Here, a patient will be evaluated for up to 72 hours.
  • Discharge—The patient will be discharged home or to another safe environment, and be connected to outpatient services as needed.

Partial Hospitalization Program

This three- to four-week outpatient program enables patients to receive treatment five days a week for six hours each day and is designed for people experiencing acute psychiatric symptoms which impair functioning at home or at work. Patients and staff work together to stabilize acute symptoms in order to avoid hospitalization or to reduce the length of a hospital stay. Treatment is provided by a team of nurses, social workers and psychiatrists. Each patient is assigned a primary therapist who, together with the treatment team, coordinates his or her individualized treatment. The program involves family and significant others by offering sessions to discuss care coordination, support, and community resources.

Visiting Hours

Adult Units:

7 days per week including weekends and holidays
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Adolescent Units:

Holiday visiting hours can vary and are discussed with the families.
Monday: 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM and 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Tuesday – Friday: 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM and 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Weekends: 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM and 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Our Doctors

Meet our dedicated team of doctors and psychiatrists who staff the Regional Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at ECMC and work alongside our staff to deliver patient-centric health care.

Michael R. Cummings, MD
Doctors, Behavioral Health, Mental Health and Psychiatry, Physician Leadership, Chiefs of Service, Medical Officers, Medical Directors
Immediate Past President, Associate Medical Director
Zhanna Elberg, MD
Doctors, Behavioral Health, Mental Health and Psychiatry, Behavioral Health Navigate Program

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