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Some services may require longer trip

April 7, 2012
The Leader Herald

The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County residents soon will be unable to access inpatient services at a state psychiatric center in Utica, and instead they will have to travel farther to Syracuse.

Local community residences also may accept more psychiatric patients from certain units at the state center in Utica that are targeted for closure.

Fulton County Director of Community Services Ernest Gagnon recently informed the Board of Supervisors' Human Services Committee inpatient units of the state's Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center in Utica will be closing.

He said the state Office of Mental Health said closure of those services is slated to occur from May to September.

Changes at MVPC, he said, will consist of closure of two inpatient psychiatric units and transfer of clients from one of the units to the Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse. He said all of the adult inpatient services at MVPC will be closed.

"There's going to be a little bit of a shuffle going on for some folks," Gagnon said.

Currently, he said, Fulton County only has one resident in MVPC being evaluated for return to Fulton County.

However, he said, the net effect of MVPC's closure of certain units is Fulton County residents needing inpatient services at the psychiatric center in Utica will have a "harder time" accessing those services. Gagnon said families of such residents will have a two-hour drive to Syracuse to visit and participate in discharge planning for loved ones.

MVPC will continue to provide outpatient services and child inpatient psychiatric services.

Gagnon said local community residences also may be asked to accept some MVPC adult residents as a way to open up space in the state residences. The patients tend to be from Herkimer and Oneida counties, he said.

The committee asked Gagnon why local patients needing state psychiatric services can't go to Albany, instead of having to go to Syracuse.

Gagnon said the state considers Fulton County to be in the Mohawk Valley mental health "catchment area," and not part of the Capital Region catchment area.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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