People Worry About Future Of Psychiatric Center

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The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center has provided mental health services and treatment for thousands of north country residents over its 120 year history in Ogdensburg.

It also has provided hundreds of jobs.

But a state initiative to reorganize mental health facilities and create regional centers for psychiatric care has local officials worried what the future may hold for the facility.

"I think it's a survival fight. I don't think it's a downsizing. I think they're going to come right in and take it away," said Chuck Kelly, a supporter of the psychiatric center.
 
The psychiatric center is one of two dozen across the state which provides inpatient services for 185 children and adults throughout the 13-county north country region.

It also provides jobs for more than 500 workers.
 
"There's always a concern from the community's perspective of downsizing because there's obviously a need for inpatient services for those with chronic mental illness," said Ogdensburg Mayor Bill Nelson.

The state is looking to increase outpatient services while downsizing inpatient services by creating regional "Centers of Excellence".

That could mean closing or drastically changing the number of state-run psychiatric centers, like the one in Ogdensburg.
 
The state Office of Mental Health hasn't said which psychiatric centers may be targeted for downsizing or closure.

But local officials are starting to mobilize just in case.

One worker at the facility told 7 News there is a "tense" atmosphere among workers as to what the state's intentions may be.
 
State mental health officials will hold a listening forum May 15 at the psychiatric center to hear input on the proposed changes.

Sunday, December 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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