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Protesters Calling On State To Reconsider MVPC Closure

Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) - The state’s plan to close the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center and consolidate services with the Syracuse based Hutchings Psychiatric Center, has many up in arms. Officials say 139 jobs are on the chopping block, and once in place, patients will have to travel to Syracuse for mental health services.

Dianne Hunt is a former patient whose husband is still a patient at MVPC. She said if the closure is allowed to happen, it would negatively impact her family’s life. “It’s tragic for all of us to have to deal with the consequences of this move. It doesn’t even make any sense, it doesn’t make any common sense whatsoever, because from what I’ve heard, financially it’s even going to cost a lot more money to do this move–you know, it doesn’t make any sense,” she said.

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, who lost his voice, but still made time to speak at the rally, agrees. He said, “Losing my voice has nothing in comparison to what these folks are going through right now and certainly we’re happy to be here to support them, and we’re happy to see their support for us as we try to advocate on their behalf. The $19-million dollars is probably the most staggering figure that we have to work with, because it’s going to a facility that was going to be closed in 2003, and that facility, all the patients of that facility were going to be transferred to Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center, so we really haven’t received much justification as to why they would spend that money now, when we have a brand new facility here. It’s up to date on codes, it’s world renowned for its patient care and we think that the patients should stay here and not be transferred to Syracuse.”

Brindisi and State Senator Joseph Griffo used a bullhorn to address the protesters in front of the State Office Building in downtown Utica, assuring them that they plan to fight to keep MVPC open. Griffo says the decision made by the New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner, Michael F. Hogan, PhD., to close the facility was a poor one. “So we’ve asked him to reconsider that decision, to reexamine the decision and to reverse the decision. The assemblymen and I have been very aggressive and vocal and we’re hoping that our message will resonate. In the end, we also want to ensure, whatever the commissioner decides, that he pays attention to the needs of this community and the patients that are being served in this community, as well as, the jobs that are impacted as a result of their decisions in Albany,” he said.

In the meantime, the process to implement the closing and consolidation plans have started. The officials say the employee unions were notified,  indication that the wheels are already in motion. How effective Griffo and Brindisi’s efforts to stop the closure has yet to be determined but both men say they’re talking to the governor about the issue.

Click on the link below for a short video of today’s protest.

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