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Local News

June 24, 2008

CVPH Children's Mental Health Unit to reopen

PLATTSBURGH -- The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit at CVPH Medical Center, which has been closed since May 19, is set to reopen July 28.

Hospital officials made the announcement Monday afternoon, noting that Dr. Diane Zuniga, medical director for the unit since it opened in 2001, is doing well following a surgical procedure and expects to be back on the job from medical leave in late July.

STAFF TRANSFERRED

"We are the only child and adolescent unit in central New York," noted Mary Krakowski, program director of Mental Health Services at CVPH, adding that having the local inpatient facility allows families to participate in their child's treatment program.

The regional facility also allows the Mental Health Unit to work closely with outpatient services in the community so a patient's care continues once discharged from the hospital, Krakowski added.

Employees on the 12-bed unit were given the opportunity to transfer to other positions throughout the hospital so they could continue working until the facility could reopen.

"We found out on the Wednesday before we closed that we were closing, and it was a shock to us all," said Sarah Newtown, a registered nurse in the Child and Adolescent Unit. "The staff has been placed someplace in the hospital, from materials management to dialysis.

"We're one big family," she said of the staff. "Right now, it's like having my brothers and sisters spread all across the U.S. I can't wait to get them all back together again."

BETTER FINANCES

The hospital also announced that the New York State Department of Health has paid CVPH retroactive to Jan. 1, 2007, to reflect an increase in reimbursement rates for physician services to patients covered by Medicaid.

"The improved rates will help us invest in this program," said CVPH President Stephens Mundy, noting that the rate change will translate into a $500,000 savings that will help offset the unit's $1.5 million loss in operating costs in 2007.

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