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Utica residents try to save psychiatric center

Utica area lawmakers, activists  and residents are trying to save the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center.  The community is galvanizing its support of the facility, which has been in the area for over a century.

Tim Trent is among the Utica-area residents angry at state budget cuts that include closing two wards at the Center and transferring inpatients from another ward to the Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse. "We will speak as long and as loudly as necessary to get a response to these concerns," said Trent.

Closing the inpatient portion of the center will affect about 100 jobs at the facility.  And more than that, it will be hard on the patients and families, says Patricia Hoch, who's worked there for 30 years.

"If they're moved to Hutchings or Rochester or Albany, their families won't be able to visit them so their support system is gone," said Hoch.

Supporters contend the move ultimately will cost taxpayer because of upgrades needed at Hutchings to handle the extra patients.

The coalition has collected 3,300 signatures on petitions and handed them over to the governor's office. Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) hopes it makes an impact, because he says these services are necessary.

"Really, the Mohawk Valley is underserved in terms of mental health services.  We're already stretched too thin and this is going to overburden an already overstretched system," said Brindisi.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.