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Psych Center Task Force seeks meeting with Gov. Cuomo

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OGDENSBURG — The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force is seeking a meeting with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to make the case that inpatient services should be retained in the north country.

The state Office of Mental Health has proposed relocating child inpatient care to Utica and adult care to Syracuse.

“It’s not an equitable way to treat the citizens of the north country,” Ogdensburg City Manager John M. Pinkerton said.

Mr. Pinkerton said the task force is hoping to sit down with Mr. Cuomo and appeal to him directly.

Mayor William D. Nelson said, “The governor has the ultimate decision-making authority.”

“We want to meet with the governor and just share with him the community issues,” Mr. Nelson said. He said the task force plans on submitting a formal request for a meeting early this week.

But task force Chairman Charles W. “Chuck” Kelly said Mr. Cuomo has already agreed to hear the panel’s concerns. When the governor visited Waddington for the Bassmaster tournament in August, Mr. Kelly spoke with him about the proposed closure of the inpatient care services at the psychiatric center.

“The governor seemed open to the meeting,” Mr. Kelly said.

Patrick J. Kelly, chief executive officer of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, said he hopes Mr. Cuomo will take the opportunity to turn the psychiatric center into a “showcase for how private industry and government can work together.”

“The story about the psych center should not be about resources and services and health care being moved out of the north country,” he said. “It ought to be about the state working with the local colleges and universities, the local healthcare providers, the county and other regional services on creating a regional center of excellence in this rural setting.”

Charles Kelly said, “We want to get mental health professionals in the decision making process. We’re asking (Mr. Cuomo) to take a second look at this facility.”

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