St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force concerned over mental health commissioner's resignation
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 6:38 am

St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force Chuck Kelly says the resignation of Mental Health Commissioner Kristin Woodlock could be bad news for Ogdensburg’s mental health facility.

Kelly said the resignation raised many questions for the task force, which is working to ensure the psychiatric center maintains current services and employees as the state looks to downsize the number of state mental health hospitals.

“We are talking about the complete restructuring of the mental health services delivery system for New York State and now the architect of the plan is out and a new person is in,” he said. What happens to the promises that have been made about regional job commitments and care standards? Where, after the drawn-out listening tour and somewhat disappointing results does this leave us for moving forward?”

Kelly said the Task Force isn’t sure how this transition will impact the process that OMH is undergoing as it reviews its plan.

“Is this change being made because of the criticisms of the plan, including the hardships that it would have placed on those needing behavioral health services in rural areas?”

Kelly questioned whether Woodlock was being used as a scapegoat.

“Was a strategy in place to use one Acting Commissioner as the driver of the plan, and another one to implement it who can skirt the criticisms of the plan by saying he can not undo it once he is in place?”

Kelly said task force is more determined than ever to protect the interest of those who need the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, their families and those best able to care for them.

“Right now, with all of these unknowns, we need to stand up and make sure we are heard even louder than before. There’s too much at stake for the people of this region for us to let staff changes in Albany to distract us from the issues of fairness and access to quality services.”

Kelly and the task force expressed their best wishes to Woodlock and said they welcomed the opportunity to talk with the new interim Acting Commissioner John Tauriello and Gov. Cuomo about the importance of maintaining services at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.