St. Lawrence Psych to remain open, retain 500 jobs

Saved. The task force sold T-shirts to lead the effort to save jobs and services at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdenbsurg. Photo: David Sommerstein

Saved. The task force sold T-shirts to lead the effort to save jobs and services at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdenbsurg. Photo: David Sommerstein

Governor Cuomo invited local leaders and the press to a video conference at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg this afternoon. Over a television screen from Albany, with a bit of dramatic flair, Cuomo announced the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center – which had been slated to lose its inpatient services – will remain open. The move retains more than 500 jobs.

Cuomo also announced the psychiatric center in Ogdensburg will become one of the state’s Centers of Excellence under a new mental health reorganization. It will be named the Children’s Behavioral North Country Center of Excellence at SLPC.

The revised plan will save all 28 children and adolescent beds that were slated for elimination. In addition, 40 of 68 adult beds will remain in Ogdensburg. Also, 50 new “community residential beds” will be established (to be honest, I have no idea what that means at this point – more on that Friday).

Cuomo commended North Country leaders of a task force to save the center for their professionalism. “Sometimes these issues get emotional and counterproductive,” Cuomo said. “I thought it laudatory the way you organized.”

Local leaders cheered after the announcement. In a press release, State Senator Patty Ritchie said:

For the people of the North Country, the St. Lawrence Psych Center has been a “Center of Excellence” for more than 100 years.  With today’s announcement, we are ensuring it continues to play a central role in delivering that quality and compassionate care, and serving our community…

With today’s announcement, we are assured that North Country families won’t have to endure an hours-long drive through dangerous winter storms to find appropriate care for our loved ones.

We can look forward to better, more rounded care for children and adolescents, and millions of dollars in new investments in community-based programs. We are protecting and preserving high-skills jobs that this community needs.  We achieved OMH’s goal, too, of transformation.

Here are the details from the Governor’s press release:

Under the revised plan by OMH, the SLPC will maintain 68 beds in the facility, including maintaining 28 children and adolescent beds. The SLPC will continue the operation of essential programs including the children’s clinic and day treatment program, the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act program, the OASAS Alcohol Treatment Center, Northwoods Residential and State community programs located off campus.

 

The original plan called for the elimination of all 65 adult beds and 28 children and adolescent beds.

 

In addition to maintaining 68 beds at the facility, 50 community residential beds will be established. A reduction of one adult ward will achieve $3 million in savings which will be reinvested in the CBHCE, which will include:

 

  • 28 beds in the facility
  • Increased clinic capacity and access in targeted communities,
  • An expanded Day Treatment program which would increase the number of existing classrooms,
  • A new Mobile Integration Team to respond to calls from schools, families, and pediatric services to provide assessment, consultation, first line treatment, and linkages to services,
  • Expanded tele-psychiatry to improve access in rural settings and provide comprehensive assessments to facilitate connection to the most appropriate level of care (such as forensic/violence assessments, juvenile sex offender evaluation, psychological assessment for educational services), and
  • Evidenced-based treatment services at all sites including dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and multi-systemic therapy along with state of the art family based interventions to improve outcomes and increase youth’s resiliency.

 

New adult community-based services and programs made possible by the reinvestment also include:

 

  • Expanded Mobile Crisis and Support capacity with first episode psychosis and peer support capacity to provide assessment, consultation, first line treatment, and linkages to services. In addition, this team will provide case management like services to individuals struggling to maintain community tenure,
  • Increased clinic capacity and access in targeted counties,
  • A new community mental health forensic program to develop and manage pretrial release plans for seriously mentally ill persons entering jails in the North Country,
  • Expand tele-psychiatry to improve access in rural settings, and
  • Expand community access to the 24 bed Northwoods residential program for community hospitals to use as step-down units.

 

No further implementation of the Regional Centers of Excellence plan will take place until OMH, in consultation with the community and mental health advocates, evaluate the effectiveness of the expanded community services on the need for inpatient beds.

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2 Comments on “St. Lawrence Psych to remain open, retain 500 jobs”

  1. Terence says:

    I think ‘community residential beds’ means something like a halfway house or assisted group living. Either way, the news is good.

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  2. Richard says:

    This is a critically important development for the children, adults and families impacted by severe and persistent mental illness across Northern New York. Kudos to all who worked so hard to achieve this result!!

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