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St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg, NY. Photo: Lizette Haenel
St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg, NY. Photo: Lizette Haenel

Psych Center task force hopes to meet with Cuomo

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Over the summer, the state Office of Mental Health released a three-year plan to consolidate mental health facilities in New York. This means inpatient services at the Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg would be relocated to Central New York. The announcement immediately raised concerns among hundreds of Psych Center employees, who would also have to move to work in other facilities around the state.

Thousands have rallied against the proposal - holding public hearings and distributing petitions. Now, the fight may go directly to Governor Cuomo's office.

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Reported by

Zach Hirsch
Reporter and Producer

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Chuck Kelly, the long-time editorial voice off the Ogdensburg Journal, chairs a task force dedicated to preserving the Psych Center. He says he’s trying to take the fight all the way to Albany to try to win Governor Andrew Cuomo’s support. 

"The psych center here is an outstanding health care for these children and even adults, and we’re asking him to take a second look," he said.

The proposed closure of the Psych Center’s inpatient service is part of the state’s effort to save money, while improving the quality of other mental health facilities. Kelly thinks this is a losing deal for the north country.

"We actually believe that we’re on the right track, and the state is on the wrong track."

He says this isn’t just about protecting Psych Center employees. Under the state’s plan, adults would have to travel to Syracuse for inpatient care, and children would go to Utica. Both are over two hours away from Ogdensburg, and Kelly says that will be financially and emotionally costly for patients’ families.

"For instance, if there’s four kids in a family, and one of em’s sick and they have to go to Utica, how are the parents going to get down there and back and forth to visit? They’re not."

The Task Force has offered six different meeting times in December. For now, Kelly hopes the Governor’s executive staff will pick one of the dates soon. Ultimately, he hopes the Governor will reconsider the state’s consolidation plan.

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