"Stop turning your backs on us and stop turning your back on our patients." That's the message being sent loud and clear to mental Health Commissioner Michael Hogan from members of the Greater Utica Community. Residents and Utica area lawmakers presented more than three thousand signed petitions to State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. He says, "Well it's certainly nice to see the community support for saving this facility at all levels, from the city government level up to the county as well as the chamber of commerce so I'm happy to collect these petitions for them and to deliver them to the Governor's office."
Residents were on hand today to also deliver the petitions and some were trying to save their own jobs and protect their patients. Patricia Hoch says, "And it's showing that we do have so much support from the community. Everyone that I've spoken to said this is absolutely wrong what's going on. How can you justify $19 million to zero? We can accommodate all of their patients, they can only accommodate twenty-five of ours, so where are the rest of our patients going?"
Assemblyman Brindisi says the psych center closing may be inevitable but he and Senator Joseph Griffo are trying to prepare for what's next."To make sure that we are doing whatever we can to minimize the job loss and make sure any affected opportunities at other OMH opportunities, whether it be Central New York Psychiatric facility in Marcy or the Hutchings facility out in Syracuse."