Preemptive Fight Underway To Save Psych Center

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State Assemblywoman Addie Russell says the threat of possible closure or downsizing of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg, which provides about 500 jobs and vital mental health services, is something the north country shouldn't take lightly.

"If for some reason we get on a closure list, I think that's when we start to roll out the types of community involvement that we used during the prison closures," said Russell (D. - 116th District).                             
 
The state is looking to downsize inpatient mental health services in favor of a more regionalized outpatient approach.

The Office of Mental Health hasn't released a potential closure list of existing psychiatric centers or the number of regional centers that would be created.

But local state legislators and community leaders have begun circling the wagons to show how important the psych center is to the north country economy and those needing psychiatric care.

More than 100 people are already registered to attend or make public comments supporting the psych center at a forum hosted by state mental health officials next Wednesday.
 
Meanwhile, state Senator Patty Ritchie has launched a "Save the Center" website and online petition drive,  currently with nearly 1,100 signatures, opposing any state effort to phase out the psychiatric center.
 
"The psych center could be up against some truly devastating cutbacks so we really need to send a strong message, a clear message to Albany," said Ritchie (R. - 48th District).
 
Local officials say next week's forum is an opportunity for psych center supporters to stand up and be counted.

Thursday, August 28, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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