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Cuomo administration agrees to meet Psych Center Task Force, still working out meeting date

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OGDENSBURG - The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force is planning on taking their fight to keep inpatient services at the facility open directly to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The state Office of Mental Health has proposed relocating inpatient services to facilities down state, instead relying on outpatient and community-based mental health care to support the north country.

Task Force Chairman Charles W. “Chuck” Kelly said they have been talking with the governor’s executive staff and are working to set up a meeting in December.

“We’ve given them six dates in December,” Mr. Kelly said. “They’ll pick the date [that works for them] and we’ll work around that.”

Mr. Kelly said the governor’s staff told him the task force can have 15 people attend the meeting, not counting state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Assembly Member Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa.

Chief Executive Officer of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency Patrick J. Kelly, Ogdensburg City Manager John M. Pinkerton and Mayor William D. Nelson will also attend, Mr. Kelly said.

“We want to maximize our time,” Mr. Kelly said.

Task force members are hoping the meeting with Mr. Cuomo will give them an opportunity to showcase both the problems with the plan by OMH, which would remove the only inpatient care facility north of the thruway, and the positive impact the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center has on the north country.

Mr. Kelly said the final decision regarding the future of the center will be made by Mr. Cuomo.

However Mr. Kelly cautioned that it isn’t yet clear whether Mr. Cuomo will himself be at the meeting or if it will be with his executive team.

“We haven’t gotten [Mr. Cuomo] to the table yet,” Mr. Kelly said.

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