With the states acting mental health commissioner stepping down at the end of the month, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an interim replacement and his nominee to take over the role later this year.
The governor picked Dr. Ann Marie Sullivan to serve as the commissioner of the Office of Mental Health, and will submit her name to the state legislature during its next legislative session so that she can assume the role in November.
John Tauriello will serve as acting commissioner from Aug. 1 until Dr. Sullivan is in the role.
Kristin M. Woodlock, who had been in the role since October, will leave at the end of July in order to join her family, which recently relocated to New York City.
The news of the appointments was announced by the governors office in a press release Friday.
The personnel changes come in the midst of plans to restructure mental health services in the state, with local leaders and advocates fighting to mitigate the impact on the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. Plans recently announced by OMH would close inpatient psychiatric care at the Ogdensburg facility and relocate it to facilities in Syracuse and Utica during the next two years. The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center would maintain its secure sex offender treatment program.
A census of the facility earlier this month showed it had 68 adults, nine children and 90 sex offenders.
Assurances from the state office that the centers 520 employees will be able to continue to work in the area has been met with skepticism by its employees union and the head of a task force looking to preserve the centers services.
The governors announcement was met with a negative reaction by Charles W. Kelly, St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force chairman, who in a statement asked how the appointment would change the transition plan.
What happens to the promises that have been made about regional job commitments and care standards? Mr. Kelly said. Where, after the drawn-out listening tour and somewhat disappointing results, does this leave us for moving forward?
According to the governors press release, Dr. Sullivan currently serves as the senior vice president for the Queens Health Network of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. In the role, she is responsible for two hospital centers that serve a community of about 2 million New York City residents.
She is an appointee of the New York State Public Health and Health Planning Council and its Mental Health Services Committee, the New York State Medicaid Redesign Team and the National Quality Forum Hospital Measures Group. She is also on the Board of Directors of the New York City Mental Health Association.
Mr. Tauriello, the interim appointment, was listed by the governors office as a nationally recognized leader in mental hygiene law and a life-long advocate for individuals with mental illness.