Job cuts and patients on the streets were the initial fears with changes at the Mohawk Valley Psych Center. Then, the Commissioner responsible for all these changes resigns - leaving several community members asking - what's next?
"I started my state career in 1970 at what was Utica State Hospital, and that was Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center, yeah I'm sad," says Kevin Conley, Region 6 Coordinator for Public Employees Federation Council.
Conley says his fears have come to reality.
"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," says Conley.
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," says Jeanette St. Mary, Council Leader for Public Employees Federation Council and intensive case manager at MVPC.
"Those folks are on the streets or waiting for beds in Syracuse," says Conley.
The man responsible: Mental Health Commissioner Michael Hogan who recently resigned. At least one employee says she's 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," says St. Mary.
And now that the majority of the psych center is closed, Governor Cuomo's plans to regionalize mental health will mean further downsizing across the state.
"Mohawk Valley was one 1 of several that was consolidated and closed and I believe that we will see more of that as this regionalization plan moves forward," says St. Mary.
St. Mary says it's more than a loss of jobs; It's patient's safety that's on the line.
"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," says St. Mary.
"Yea, it's sad. It's to bad we have to operate that way," says Conley.
St. Mary and Conley want to reiterate that the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center still provides out-patient care to over a thousand people in our community.