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Fri., Oct. 9
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Psych Center Task Force highlights community support


OGDENSBURG — The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force is highlighting people and groups in the region who wear their “SAVE SLPC” and “SLPC = EXCELLENCE” T-shirts after learning the state has asked psychiatric center employees to refrain from wearing them on the job.

Ogdensburg City Manager John M. Pinkerton said, “The psychiatric center is now telling their employees that they can’t wear their T-shirts saying ‘Save the psych center’ because it’s creating anxiety among the patients.”

Civil Service Employees Association Local 423 President Ronnie D. Freeman Jr. said, “That’s a directive from the acting director,” Timothy J. Farrell. Mr. Freeman said the order came through Wednesday. “They said that it’s affecting the therapy of the patients.”

Mr. Farrell could not be reached for comment.

But Mr. Freeman isn’t convinced the T-shirts were causing patients to be upset. “It’s not the T-shirts,” he said, instead pointing to the plan by the state Office of Mental Health to move child inpatient services to Utica and adult care to Syracuse.

Charles W. Kelly, chairman of the Psychiatric Center Task Force, said the patients “are upset because the state wants to close the center, not because people are wearing the T-shirts. It’s a terrible thought that they would believe that the patients would be upset over the T-shirts.”

“The patients are upset — there’s no question about that. They’re very upset about the fact that the state may close this center and they would have to go downstate for service,” Mr. Kelly said.

Because of the ban on employees wearing the T-shirts, the psychiatric center is hoping to highlight local people, groups and businesses that support keeping inpatient services local. This week the task force highlighted the staff at Lincoln Elementary School.

T-shirts can be purchased at the Ogdensburg City Hall.

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