CORTLAND, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Senator Chuck Schumer is looking to ensure that thousands in Central New York and Cortland are able to get their hands on the mental health care that they deserve.

The state of Cortland County’s current mental health facility is quite low as it “lacks basic necessities like broadband, disability accessibility and cannot meet the modern needs of its patients,” according to Senator Schumer’s office.

On Friday, December 2, Senator Chuck Schumer went to downtown Cortland after working to “secure millions” for Cortland County. Schumer is pushing for a new state of the art mental health facility. He wants to take an abandoned building downtown, put funding into it and turn it into a mental healthcare service facility.

Schumer said that nearly $5 million in federal funding is slated to jump start this massive expansion, which will nearly double the size of Cortland County’s Mental Health Department, and significantly improve its services.

Schumer said he has already delivered $2 million of that $5 million in federal funding. However, a little under $3 million of the remaining money is stuck and yet to be allocated in the right places.

In order for it to be used, the remaining money needs to be passed in the end-of-year omnibus spending bill for the Fiscal Year 2023.

“Cortland County needs and deserves a modern mental health care facility. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, rural communities were already struggling to meet mental health needs and those needs have only increased,” said Senator Schumer. “That is why I fought for historic funding increases to mental health programs in the COVID relief legislation and made sure the local aid places like Cortland County received was flexible so that they could invest in the long term health of their communities. Now, Congress needs to pass the final piece of the puzzle and deliver the last $3 million so that Cortland County can transform this vacant building into the state of the art mental health center Central New York’s rural residents deserve.”

Sharon MacDougall, Director of Community Services, Cortland County Mental Health Department said, “These funds would offer essential financial assistance and the chance to direct additional investments into the county’s behavioral health system of care. Our behavioral health community will benefit so much from this investment.  I’m so thankful to the Senator for caring about Cortland.”

The goal? To create a “state of the art one-stop shop,” said Schumer’s office.

According to Cortland County, they already have over a thousand patients enrolled in their mental health care programs and that number continues to rise. They are estimating an 8 percent increase next year alone.

Cortland County’s Clinic program experienced a record 30-year high for total sessions in August 2022 at nearly 1,734 total sessions to 850 patients in a single month.

If approved, when the facility is completed, it’s set to double the space for the county’s treatment programs. It will also have upgrades, like an ADA compliant elevator and high-speed internet. Thus, boosting the quality of telehealth treatments.

“The funding will allow Cortland County’s Mental Health Department to have the space they need to continue offering three NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) licensed outpatient treatment programs: Clinic, Adult Day Treatment, and Children’s Mental Health Rehabilitation Services. The funding will also help Cortland County’s Mental Health Department expand their Children’s Mental Health Rehabilitation Services,” added Schumer’s office.

Schumer states that he “made sure the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds was flexible to address the long-term health and economic needs of communities.”

If all goes according to plan, the Fiscal Year 2023, Schumer is looking to pass a full government spending bill by December of 2022.