To The Editor:
To acting state Office of Mental Health Commissioner Kristin Woodlock:
I urge you to keep St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in operation as the facility that serves the vast area of Northern New York as an inpatient facility. Northern New York is the most rural and medically underserved region of the state. SLPC serves the most vulnerable population in the region and has been supported by the community of Ogdensburg for over 100 years providing competent, quality care all of those years. The loss of this facility would create a hardship for the recipients of this needed service as well as for their families, as many have no means to travel to receive inpatient treatment or their families to visit their loved ones. Maintaining family and community connections is an important part of psychiatric care. Winter travel would factor in as another impediment to continuity of care.
While expansion of outpatient services is being considered in lieu of psychiatric centers, this approach in the northern tier would be severely disadvantaged by the difficulty this region has in recruiting qualified professionals to establish a residency and practice in this area. Satellites would be understaffed and tax professionals who likely would have to serve more than one site.
SLPC provides a significant economic impact to the north country. The loss of 500 jobs would create an economic crisis far greater than the cost of continuing the delivery of inpatient services in the region. I urge you to maintain St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center as the facility it is, providing essential services for north country residents and contributing to the economic well-being of northern communities.
Terrence and Judith Ryan