Disappointed in OMH decision, legislator says
Friday, August 9, 2013 - 9:54 am

To the Editor:

As the Chairman of the St. Lawrence County Legislature I was pleased to see so many of my fellow legislators attend the listening tour at the SLPC. Legislators Burns, Morrill, Lightfoot, Brothers and Putman all rose to offer comments in support of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center being declared a center for excellence.

I am highly disappointed by the news from the State Office of Mental Health regarding the closure of the Children and Adult units at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.

Despite the hours of positive comments that were made it is apparent that the OMH didn’t hear us. If OMH officials were truly listening to our input they would have decided to expand the facility due to the record of quality care that has been provided.

According to the OMH website the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center had a 93 percent rating, creating a tie for 1st place out of 16 facilities when it came to quality care indicators for adults and children. Some of the other facilities, which are slated to remain open, fell notably below SLPC’s score.

Under the new state plan children will now have to travel Utica and that certainly doesn’t serve our young people well. North Country kids who come from working families are at a significant disadvantage. Parents may not be able to take time off from work to help their child recover.

The OMH touts an elimination of the catchment areas, indicating that you can get treatment at any facility in the state that you would like. While that may initially sound good, what that really means is that you have the right to travel even further away. Does anyone think that majority of our citizens are going to be able to afford that?

Common sense would dictate that this facility should remain open. I believe we can appeal to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s sense of reason. We can win this battle based on the merits alone and when all the facts are made known to Governor Cuomo he could act to correct this bureaucratic blunder.

Take the time to get the facts and talk to your neighbors, friends and family about what is at stake.

Visit us at https://www.facebook.com/StLawrencePsychiatricCenterTaskForce?ref=hl . Let’s get to work to create a brighter future for the people of the North Country.

Jonathan Putney, Chairman of the SLC Board of Legislators