Drama continues at St. Lawrence Psych with stabbing arrest


The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg, NY. Photo: Lizette Haenel

St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center is really having a time of it, it seems. The Ogdensburg facility’s Trinity Building was the site on Monday of a stabbing, and the Watertown Daily Times is reporting that police made an arrest this morning.

Here’s what apparently happened: During lunch on Monday, a patient attacked a member of the staff with a metal butter knife. The employee’s cheek was punctured, and he was taken to Claxton-Hepburn Hospital where he was treated and released.

The patient has been charged with second-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Both are class D Felonies — the patient’s been charged with a felony because of a prior conviction, and was arraigned this morning. He’s been remanded back to the Psych Center, on bail.

In other Psych Center news, in case you missed it, New York State Office of Mental Health Acting Director Kirsten Woodlock sent a letter last week to New York State Sen. Patty Ritchie in which she sought to clarify “a key misinterpretation [that] has surfaced as North Country residents have had the opportunity to review the Office of Mental Health’s Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) Plan.” Here’s a link to that letter, via North Country Now. The clarification isn’t quite as specific as one might hope, but here’s the meat of what Woodlock had to say (you can read the rest in the letter itself):

This plan will provide the nearly 520 current employees of St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center to remain in the North Country if they choose. The Regional Centers of Excellence Plan will maintain community services and the sex offender treatment program currently provided by St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. Nearly half (260) of the current employees work in these services today and will continue under the RCE Plan.

The remaining staff of St. Lawrence will have the opportunity to work for the RCE in the North Country with the expansion into state operated community mental health services. If employees choose not to join the OMH RCE Community Services expansion, they will have other choices. OMH will work with the Department of Civil Service and other State agencies to explore opportunities for employees who wish to explore North Country options for employment. We will offer voluntary reassignment to open up opportunities for current employees to voluntarily take a position with another OMH facility without hiring freeze or Civil Service clearance restrictions. OMH will also explore opportunities to retrain our workforce for positions which are in demand in their home communities.

It’s not yet clear exactly how the services will shake out, and how that would impact exactly what the new jobs will be. Meanwhile, the president of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), which represents about 400 St. Lawrence Psych Employees, is describing the OMH’s plan as “sketchy, vague, and superficial”, according to North Country Now. Danny Donohue said it’s “disappointing”

that members of the mental health services community would be so quick to embrace the vague and superficial outline put forth by the Cuomo administration. New York has never followed through with promised reinvestment for adequate mental health services over the past generation. Instead, too many individuals and families have been left without the help they need and local officials and taxpayers have had to deal with the human wreckage at their own expense.

There is no evidence in the state’s latest sketchy proposal that promised changes will meet the needs of real people and communities…Until New Yorkers see a detailed plan, healthy skepticism from the mental health community would be more appropriate than a pep rally.

So on we go. NCPR’s newsroom is looking at how the changes in Ogdensburg will impact services in our area for people with mental illnesses; and we’ll obviously keep following this story as it develops.

1 Comment on “Drama continues at St. Lawrence Psych with stabbing arrest”

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  1. Mervel says:

    So where is this guy and people like him going to go when they close the psych center? Regardless of the jobs issue, there is no plan and no real compassion for people who need in-patient services.

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