Gov. Cuomo credits community with reversing plan to make cuts at St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg
Friday, December 20, 2013 - 11:44 am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Office of Mental Health surprised the North Country Thursday by announcing maintenance of the services that might have been cut and actually expanding other services at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.

The revised plan will expand community services including establishment of a specialized state-of-the-art Children’s Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (CBHCE) for the North Country, according to details in a news release from Cuomo’s office.

Gov. Cuomo said the community support, particularly through the organized effort of the psych center Task Force, was what turned the proposal around.

Under the revised plan by OMH, the SLPC will maintain 68 beds in the facility, including maintaining 28 children and adolescent beds.

The SLPC will continue the operation of essential programs including the children’s clinic and day treatment program, the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act program, the OASAS Alcohol Treatment Center, and the Northwoods Residential and state community programs located off campus.

The original plan announced earlier this year called for the elimination of all 65 adult beds and 28 children and adolescent beds.

In addition to maintaining the 68 beds, 50 community residential beds will be established. A reduction of one adult ward will achieve $3 million in savings which will be reinvested in the CBHCE, which will include:

• 28 beds in the facility

• increased clinic capacity and access in targeted communities

• an expanded day treatment program which would increase the number of existing classrooms

• a new Mobile Integration Team to respond to calls from schools, families, and pediatric services to provide assessment, consultation, first line treatment, and linkages to services

• expanded tele-psychiatry to improve access in rural settings and provide comprehensive assessments to facilitate connection to the most appropriate level of care (such as forensic/violence assessments, juvenile sex offender evaluation, psychological assessment for educational services), and

• evidenced-based treatment services at all sites including dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and multi-systemic therapy along with state of the art family based interventions to improve outcomes and increase youth’s resiliency.

New adult community-based services and programs made possible by the reinvestment also include:

• expanded mobile crisis and support capacity with first-episode psychosis and peer support capacity to provide assessment, consultation, first line treatment, and linkages to services. In addition, this team will provide case management like services to individuals struggling to maintain community tenure

• increased clinic capacity and access in targeted counties

• a new community mental health forensic program to develop and manage pretrial release plans for seriously mentally ill persons entering jails in the North Country

• expanded tele-psychiatry to improve access in rural settings, and

• expanded community access to the 24-bed Northwoods residential program for community hospitals to use as step-down units.

No further implementation of the Regional Centers of Excellence plan will take place until OMH, in consultation with the community and mental health advocates, evaluate the effectiveness of the expanded community services on the need for inpatient beds, according to the statement from the governor’s office.

Cuomo said, “This plan 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.”