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Fate of St. Lawrence Psych Center may be known by next week

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OGDENSBURG - State Office of Mental Health Acting Commissioner Kristin M. Woodlock expects to know the fate of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center by next week.

She told a crowd of more than 300 at the state’s listening tour Wednesday that her goal is to have a strategic plan in place by Monday for the development of regional centers of excellence. If that seems rushed, she said, it is.

“I have to play with the cards I was dealt,” she said.

Mrs. Woodlock said a looming shift to managed care expected next year, along with the need to give hospitals a year’s notice if they are to close, has OMH under pressure to make changes in a short time.

City, St. Lawrence County and state officials urged her to consider building on the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center’s successes in combining inpatient and outpatient treatments for the mentally ill by designating it a regional center of excellence.

Businessman Lynn Blevins, Ogdensburg, said that was the only logical path.

“It would be irresponsible to close a hospital in an area with such a huge unemployment problem,” he said.

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