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St. Lawrence community program bows out of mental health transportation

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The St. Lawrence County Community Development Program is dropping its bus service for the mentally ill to day treatment programs June 1, but another agency has pledged to find a way to provide transportation.

CDP based its decision on Medicaid eliminating its reimbursement for the service. The county Community Services Department, which provides chemical dependency and mental health services, procured $62,000 through the state Office of Mental Health on top of the $112,000 it already provided to help CDP get through the year.

But that money was not enough, CDP Executive Director Norma S. Cary said. Even with the additional help from the Office of Mental Health, CDP would stand to lose more than $100,000 in 2014 if it continued the service, she said.

“They don’t have any additional money to give us,” she said.

The end of CDP’s transportation program for the mentally ill to day treatment programs ends a 27-year service, she said.

Community Services Director Angela M. Doe said her board’s goal had been for CDP to use the additional money to get through the year so they could work on another solution for the future. She said she had not received a final determination from CDP yet.

“If they’re no longer going to provide the transportation, we have no choice,” she said. “We’ll have to find an alternative provider.”

CDP will continue to operate its bus garage.

“We still need that for our Head Start program. All of the cost will now go to Head Start,” Ms. Cary said. “We’re busy trying to restructure things. We’re going to have to look for some creative ways.”

One CDP bus driver has already found other employment. The demise of the mental health transportation service will mean the loss of two other drivers and a per-diem position, Ms. Cary said.

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