Press-Republican

Health

December 20, 2013

New plan would save St. Lawrence inpatient

OGDENSBURG — State officials propose St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center’s inpatient program stay open, and, in fact, a specialized, state-of-the-art Children’s Behavioral Health Center of Excellence be established there.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the revised plan from the State Office of Mental Health (OMH) on Thursday afternoon.

St. Lawrence is the only long-term inpatient psychiatric treatment facility in the North Country, and many had protested the state’s original plan, which would have shut down those beds.

The new plan, the governor said, “was developed in response to significant input from stakeholders in the community and maintains the operation of essential beds and programs while also providing new or expanded services where they are needed most. 

“I commend the many families, community advocates and mental-health professionals who came together, brought the facts to the table and worked with the state on this issue in order to best meet the needs of the North Country.”

BEDS WOULD REMAIN

St. Lawrence would retain its 68 beds under the revised plan, 48 of which are for adults and 20 for children and adolescents, according to a media release from the Governor’s Office. 

The facility would continue running essential programs, including the children’s clinic and day-treatment program, the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act program, the OASAS Alcohol Treatment Center, Northwoods Residential and state community programs located off campus.

The original plan, announced in August, called for the elimination of all inpatient beds.

It said the St. Lawrence Adult Inpatient Unit would be transferred to regional centers in Syracuse or Albany, and the Children’s and Adolescent Inpatient Unit would moved to a regional center in Utica.

Then, officials said, shuttering those units in Ogdensburg would save the state $20 million over a three-year transition period, which was slated to begin in July 2014.

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