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People gather at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center for Wednesday's meeting. Photo: Julie Grant
People gather at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center for Wednesday's meeting. Photo: Julie Grant

Job losses big concern if Ogdensburg psych center closes

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The state Office of Mental Health could decide as soon as Monday whether it will close the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg.

This week, the state held a meeting to listen to the community's comments about the center. One topic many people brought up was jobs: The Ogdensburg facility employs more than 500 people.

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Reported by

Julie Grant
Reporter and Producer

Lynn Blevins is a local business owner. He says unemployment in this region is consistently among the highest in New York, and the loss of jobs would be devastating.

"It would be irresponsible to close a facility with this large of an unemployment problem."

But the state health commissioner says New York has 24 mental health hospitals, three times more than any other state.

New York state's Acting Commissioner for Mental Health, Kristin Woodlock, says that needs to change. She says the loss of jobs makes it hard to close any facility:

"We have nearly 15,000 employees. We have to acknowledge that that's been a part of the difficulty of changing our system."

Woodlock says the state will decide in the next few days which hospitals to close, and which to expand into what the state's calling "regional centers of excellence."

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