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What’s next for the Mohawk Valley Psych Center?

The majority of the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center in Utica closed its doors about six months ago. Direct orders from the commissioner of mental health forced the inpatient wards at the psych center to close.
Utica (WSYR-TV) -- The majority of the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center in Utica closed its doors about six months ago. Direct orders from the commissioner of mental health forced the inpatient wards at the psych center to close.

Job cuts and patients on the streets were the initial fears with changes at the psych center, but now, the commissioner responsible for all the changes has resigned.

Kevin Conley – a member of the Public Employees Federation Council – says his fears have come to reality.

“I started my state career in 1970 at what was Utica State Hospital and that was Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center. Yeah, I’m sad,” Conley said. “I'm sad for civil servants who lost their job there. I'm sad for the families that don't have that opportunity for care provided locally.”

Several patients were displaced; some were transferred to Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse – an older and smaller facility.

“Hutchings has a capacity of 118 beds,” Conley said. “Those folks are on the streets or waiting for beds in Syracuse.”

Mental Health Commissioner Michael Hogan, who’s responsible for the closure, recently resigned.

Public Employees Federation Council President Jeanette St. Mary is glad to see him go.

"I felt that from the beginning we were not informed well. Even when Mr. Brindisi and Mr. Griffo met with him, concrete evidence has never been provided to this area. I don't believe that the adult inpatient units will ever be reopened at Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center," St. Mary said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to regionalize mental health, which will mean further downsizing across the state.

"Mohawk Valley was one one of several that was consolidated and closed and I believe that we will see more of that as this regionalization plan moves forward,” St. Mary continued.

St. Mary says it’s more than just a loss of jobs, patient safety is on the line as well.

"When you're dealing with people who developmental disabilities and mental illness, sometimes the cost is more with families and heartache then it is with dollars and cents," St. Mary said.

The Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center still provides out-patient care to over 1,000 people.

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