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Jefferson Legislators oppose closure of St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, postpone jail doc decision again

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Jefferson County Legislators voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a resolution opposing any plan to close the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg or reduce services at the facility.

Officials are worried that a state Office of Mental Health plan to reduce the number of inpatient hospital beds in New York in favor of more outpatient-based services would have a negative effect on both the economy and the welfare of the north country.

The facility, which employs approximately 500 people, provides mental health services to patients in 13 counties. The next closest psychiatric center is in Syracuse.

The center provides services for children, youth and adults. It also offers a sex-offender treatment program.

“The loss of jobs and payroll at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center would create an economic climate that will contribute even further to the need for the services that would be taken out of this area by the Center’s closure or reduction of services,” the resolution reads in part.

The state Office of Mental Health is hosting a listening session about the issue at the St. Lawrence Pyschiatric Center Unity Center, 1 Chimney Point Drive, from 10 a.m. to noon May 15. Anyone from the community is allowed to speak or attend provided they register beforehand on the Office of Mental Health website.

The resolution, which was added at the last minute, provided the second surprise of the evening.

Legislators went into an executive session early in the meeting to discuss the removal of Dr. David F. Rosner as jail physician.

Sheriff John P. Burns requested that Dr. Rosner be removed in an email to county legislators and administrators that was included in last week’s Finance and Rules committee agenda.

Mr. Burns said the email was meant to be confidential because it concerned a personnel matter.

Deputy Administrator Michael E. Kaskan said he included the email in the agenda as justification for the committee to take action.

The committee decided last week to defer their decision about the matter to Tuesday’s meeting. On Tuesday, the full board decided to postpone the decision once again.

Undersheriff Paul W. Trudeau said after the meeting that he had no comment on the matter.

County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III said that the removal of Dr. Rosner was still an “ongoing discussion.”

“More discussion is needed. We hope to resolve the issue and make the right moves in fairness to all concerned,” Chairwoman Carolyn D. Fitzpatrick, R-Watertown, said.

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