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State pushes back release of plan on psych center’s future

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OGDENSBURG — The state Office of Mental Health missed its target date to release a plan for how it will revamp mental health care services and the role the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center will play in that plan.

OMH had originally expected by Monday to release its plan to decrease the number of inpatient psychiatric beds in the state. A statement posted on OMH’s website said the plan would be released sometime the week of July 8.

OMH spokesman Benjamin Rosen said Monday afternoon that OMH still expected to release the plan this week, but he could not specifically say when. He said he could not comment on the reason for the delay.

North country officials have feared that the state’s reworking of its mental health delivery system could result in the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center’s closure, putting hundreds of state employees out of work and forcing patients to travel long distances for treatment.

The state is looking to change care delivery from a system OMH officials say has been too reliant on inpatient care to a model that relies heavily on community-based supports for the mentally ill. As part of the changes, OMH is looking to designate some hospitals as regional centers of excellence that will partner with hospitals, colleges and universities and community-based agencies for research and to provide care.

A task force formed to try to save the psychiatric center from closure has urged OMH officials to consider the city’s hospital for a center of excellence designation.

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