Deal struck to keep Sagamore open; admissions intake to be monitored

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Dr. Dennis Dubey, former director of the Sagamore Dr. Dennis Dubey, former director of the Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills, outside the building on July 29, 2013. He opposed the state's plan to close the center. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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ALBANY -- As part of state budget negotiations, legislators said Tuesday that they struck a tentative deal to keep open the Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills, though its capacity could change.

Instead of closing this year as proposed by the Cuomo administration, the center would remain open for the foreseeable future. The administration, however, will monitor Sagamore for a three-month period while the state determines whether expanded "community centers" -- which provide psychiatric services -- reduce admissions at Sagamore, which currently has 77 beds but staffing for only about 54, according to the State Senate.

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The administration will report preliminary findings to the legislature by Dec. 31, and again by April 1, 2015. There is no provision for closing Sagamore, but its bed capacity could be reduced, Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) said.

"The treatment provided to our children at Sagamore is critical and we have no doubt that any study will demonstrate this fact," Boyle said. He added that "no child will be turned away" while the evaluation is ongoing.

Aides to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had no immediate comment.

Parents and Long Island lawmakers had been campaigning to save Sagamore.

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Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), whose district includes Sagamore, said it was "ludicrous" to consider closing down the only children's psychiatric hospital on the Island. He called the compromise to keep the facility open a victory.

"For the families affected, it absolutely means the world to them," Flanagan said.

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