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Psychiatric services must be available locally

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I’d like to echo the concerns of Dr. E. Fuller Torrey (Watertown Daily Times, “Top psychiatrist says the state’s plan to reduce inpatient psychiatric capacity is mad,” Nov. 24) relative to New York State’s moves to reduce the number of inpatient psychiatric beds statewide.

Whether Washington or the state bears the cost of these services, it all comes out of the taxpayers’ pockets. That New York has “only about half the beds needed to meet the demand for inpatient psychiatric care” should serve as the first alarm that this is an inadequate plan.

In my own experience as a psychiatric nurse who evaluated ER patients with psychiatric complaints, there was often difficulty placing individuals in appropriate facilities. My job was to help psychiatrists at our facility to sort out who needed to be involuntarily or voluntarily admitted or who could be referred out to outpatient programs. The problem is ten-fold when it comes to young children.

Kids who need hospitalization also need to be within a manageable distance from their parents who often have little money and few resources. Placing a child from Ithaca in a hospital in Saratoga is an example of what happens now.

For obvious reasons, I hope, these kids need to be where their parents can support and be involved in their care. Reducing the number of beds for them at a facility such as the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center is leaving north country families out in the cold.

The idea that New York will put more money into outpatient services is ludicrous. There’s no point in saving money by closing beds just to create more expenditures for outpatient services.

Dan Denney

Ogdensburg

The author is a registered nurse.

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