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Senate and Assembly committees plan hearing in Ogdensburg to discuss future of Psych Center

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The state Senate and Assembly will hold a joint hearing to discuss the plan by the state Office of Mental Health to redesign in-patient services across New York on Sept. 17 at City Hall.

OMH has proposed moving child in-patient care services from the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center to Utica and adult care services to Syracuse and creating 15 regional centers of excellence.

The hearing will include members of the Assembly and Senate Standing Committees on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and the Senate Standing Committee on Health.

Assembly member Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said she hopes members of the committees will understand “that access is going to be very problematic for people in our community because of the sheer distance” if in-patient care is moved to Utica and Syracuse.

Charles “Chuck” W. Kelly, chair of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force, said he wants to see people from the community coming together to help convince the state to make Ogdensburg a regional center of excellence.

“I want the people here to speak frankly about the situation so the legislators get the voice of the north country,” he said.” Anybody can come and speak and give their views on the proposal.”

Mrs. Russell said people should sign up to speak at the hearing by the end of the week to ensure they will get a chance to have their voice heard.

Each person will get 10 minutes, Mrs. Russell said, and people interested in speaking should call her office, 786-0284, to sign up. People can also visit her Assembly website for more information.

“It’s important that we have a diverse group of people testifying,” she said.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 330 Ford Street.

A similar hearing was held on Monday in Farmingdale and a third hearing will be held on Sept. 19 in Middletown.

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