To The Editor:
The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center has a proven legacy of providing high quality services to an extremely large region of New York. The current catchment area for the facility serves 10,699 square miles, an area that comprises 20 percent of the states geography. This large area, with its well-documented lack of transportation infrastructure, is in many ways isolated from the rest of the state, and certainly from the states other psychiatric facilities.
Beginning next year, it is proposed that inpatient services will start to be removed from the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. Within a couple of years, no state Office of Mental Health inpatient hospital services will be available in our region. Such services will require our individuals and families to leave our area and travel to facilities in Utica, Syracuse or other hospitals even further away.
The economic hardships people in the north country face make it very difficult to afford the expense of traveling long distances forcare. Elimination of access to inpatient services at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center would create serious hardships and potentially deter individuals and families who are already economically stressed from seeking or continuing the care they need. There is a very real concern that with the plan to close the inpatient wards at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, people will not get the care they need either for themselves, their children, or their other loved ones.
For years, the Office of Mental Health has promoted a system of care which promotes family driven and community-based care. Families that have to travel three hours away to other communities are going to find it very hard to actively participate in the care and recovery of their loved ones. It really touches your heart when you think of the impact this will have on families that are already struggling with a loved one who has a mental illness. I encourage everyone in the surrounding communities to show their support for the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. You, your family or a friend or neighbor may very well have benefitted from having this facility in our region, and may one day suffer the increased hardships from having its services so greatly reduced.
St. Lawrence County legislator, District 13