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Psych Center Task Force highlights community support

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OGDENSBURG - The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force is highlighting people and groups in the region who wear their “SAVE SLPC” and “SLPC = EXCELLENCE” t-shirts after learning that the state has asked psychiatric center employees to refrain from wearing them on the job.

Ogdensburg City Manager John M. Pinkerton said, “The psychiatric center is now telling their employees that they can’t wear their t-shirts saying ‘save the psych center’ because it’s creating anxiety among the patients.”

Local 423 CSEA President Ronnie D. Freeman Jr. said, “That’s a directive from the Acting Director [Timothy J. Farrell].”

Mr. Freeman said the order came through on Wednesday. “They said that it’s affecting the therapy of the patients.”

Mr. Farrell could not be immediately reached for comment.

But Mr. Freeman isn’t convinced that the t-shirts were causing patients to be upset.

“It’s not the t-shirts,” Mr. Freeman said, instead pointing to the plan by the state Office of Mental Health to move child inpatient services to Utica and adult care to Syracuse.

Charles “Chuck” W. Kelly, chair of the Psychiatric Center Task Force, said, “The [patients] are upset because they want to close the center, not because people are wearing the t-shirts. It’s a terrible thought that they would believe that the patients would be upset over the t-shirts.

“The patients are upset – there’s no question about that. They’re very upset about the fact that the state may close this center and they would have to go downstate for service,” Mr. Kelly said.

Because of the ban on employees wearing the t-shirts the psychiatric center is hoping to highlight local people, groups and businesses that support keeping inpatient services local.

This week the task force highlighted the staff at Lincoln Elementary School.

T-shirts can be purchased at the Ogdensburg City Hall.

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