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Psych Center critical component in north country mental health care

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The state’s Office of Mental Health listening tour will stop in Ogdensburg Wednesday as state officials get feedback on their effort that appears to be focused on the drive to provide more outpatient services in the community and continue efforts to reduce the number of patients that are hospitalized.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013-14 executive budget had called for the closure of four psychiatric centers in the state, and while the plan was not enacted local officials have moved to impress on state officials the importance of the psychiatric center to health care in the north country.

It is sometimes easy to see the challenges of mental health care in urban areas with exposure to the homeless and mentally ill in many of our urban areas. The problem is far less visible in rural areas like the north country, but a review of police blotters from around the region quickly demonstrates the challenges facing many in our communities.

The psychiatric center in Ogdensburg has been an important part of health care in the north country for nearly 125 years, and the rural nature of our region demands that it remain an important part of mental health care well into the future.

The track record of the 500-plus employees at the Ogdensburg facility makes the north country an ideal location for one of the Regional Centers of Excellence being promoted by the Office of the Mental Health.

It is critical that north country residents facing mental health crises - when they are the most vulnerable - have access to the quality care that is provided at the Ogdensburg hospital. We are confident that message will be made loud and clear Wednesday morning.

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