To the Editor:
The following letter was sent to John M. Pinkerton, Ogdensburg City Manager:
I am highly concerned about the future of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. It is my understanding that the task force will soon be meeting with representatives from Gov. Cuomo’s office; I ask that you share my concerns with his office.
Much of the media attention that I have heard/seen/read indicates a focus on the potential loss of jobs. While I recognize the severe consequences of further job losses in the North Country, it is the loss of critical services and resulting adverse health impacts that terrifies me.
Eliminating inpatient adult care and child mental health services will leave families a bitter choice: send their loved ones away from home, removing them from existing support networks and the comfort of the familiar, or worse, go without necessary treatment and professional care.
The loss of these essential health services will be devastating and result in a downward spiral far more severe than that caused by job losses and a stagnant economy. Individual lives will be lost. Families will be consumed or torn apart. The overarching social effects - homelessness, crime, domestic violence, suicide - will degrade the quality of life for every person living in or visiting the North Country.
It is my greatest hope that Governor Cuomo will recognize this as the social justice issue it is. He has made clear his desires for New York to embrace its heritage and regain its prominence as our nation’s progressive leader and has demonstrated his commitment to these ideals. The current debate over the future of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center is an opportunity to further demonstrate that commitment by ensuring essential services for our most vulnerable citizens.
Heidi J. Ames