Huntington urges state to keep Sagamore center open

The State Office of Mental Health holds a public hearing Tuesday to discuss closing 54 inpatient beds at Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills.  Videojournalist: Jessica Rotkiewicz (Aug. 27, 2013)

The State Office of Mental Health holds a public hearing Tuesday to discuss closing 54 inpatient beds at Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills. Videojournalist: Jessica Rotkiewicz (Aug. 27, 2013)

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The Huntington Town Board has passed a resolution urging the governor and the state legislature to keep the Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center open.

The board unanimously passed the measure Tuesday, insisting the state keep the Dix Hills facility open and make it a "regional center of excellence."

The state Office of Mental Health unveiled a comprehensive statewide plan this summer that includes closing the 54-bed center in July and creating 15 Regional Centers of Excellence.

According to the OMH website, the Long Island regional center is in Brentwood, but that has only adult inpatient services.

Under the cost-cutting plan, children needing inpatient psychiatric treatment would go to facilities in Queens or the Bronx, and community services would be expanded, including intensive, individualized help designed to treat more troubled children at home.

"It clearly is something that fills a tremendous need and to have it moved to the Bronx or Queens is going to be a hardship on people who are obviously having a hard enough time with their child having a psychological condition that's pretty acute," said town board member Mark Cuthbertson, who sponsored the resolution.

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Several people came out to support the resolution Tuesday night and a few spoke, including Patricia Price, a clinical psychologist at Sagamore.

"We have a lot children who have experienced such severe trauma that they cannot function in the community and they must come to us," Price said. "We also only take children who have had failed psychiatric placements."

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