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Psych Center task force presents its case

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Following is a slightly condensed version of a letter sent July 2 to Kristin M. Woodlock, acting commissioner of the state Office of Mental Health.

Please see the enclosed and updated presentation binder from the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force. This is an updated and enhanced version of the document we provided to the New York State Office of Mental Health at the Listening Tour stop in Ogdensburg on May 15.

The original binder highlighted a number of key factors, including:

n The unique range and quality of services provided at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. One facility with children/youth, adult, sexual offender treatment programs as well as an on-site OASAS Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment facility provides diversity of services that would make an excellent foundation for a Regional Center of Excellence.

n The leading role this facility has taken in establishing a continuum of care with a number of community-based organizations in the region. This track record of delivering mental health services in a rural setting could be a model for other areas of the state.

n The potential and willingness of the universities and hospitals in the region to collaborate and cooperate with the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. As demonstrated both at the listening tour visit and within this binder, there is clearly the potential to form the educational affiliations and partnerships needed to develop this facility into a Regional Center of Excellence.

n The sheer size and distance of this region would make it a hardship and prohibitive for North Country residents to utilize other OMH facilities in the state. As is pointed out on the cover of our binder, this is the only one of 24 OMH psychiatric centers located north of the Thruway communities. The size of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center’s Catchment Area (10,699 square miles) is an area larger than three of the current OMH state regions.

This updated version now includes over 60 letters and resolutions of support for the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center from communities, colleges and school districts, churches, development organizations, elected officials, hospitals, businesses, and local residents throughout the North Country. Additionally, there are copies of nearly three dozen news articles in the regional press in support of the center.

We feel this document highlights the strengths of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, clearly demonstrates the need for continued or expanded operations of the center, and gives an accurate representation of the importance of, and support for, this facility throughout our region.

Charles W. “Chuck” Kelly

Chairman, St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force

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