Letter: Move psych care to private hospital

The Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center, where inpatient treatment

The Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center, where inpatient treatment may be discontinued. State officials say the move could save them $20 million, and shift focus to community-based programs. Photo Credit: News 12 Long Island

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Over the past 50 years, New York State has eliminated thousands of psychiatric beds without providing adequate resources to treat the patients with mental illness ["Sound off on psychiatric care," Editorial, Sept. 8]. It is not news that these people have been neglected by the system and society. The burden of providing care has shifted gradually to the private sector.

Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills has been an excellent facility for many years and has provided an important service to Suffolk and Nassau county residents. It is also a part of the bloated bureaucratic state system and is very expensive to operate. There are private, nonprofit hospitals that operate much more efficiently and at a lesser cost.

South Oaks Hospital in Amityville is an example. It serves both counties of Long Island and to a lesser degree New York City. It is one of the largest nonprofit psychiatric hospitals in the state and has been in business for more than 125 years. It is certified for more than 200 beds and can add another 60 beds, thereby absorbing all the needs of the Sagamore population.

South Oaks' program can match the best in the country, and it costs much less than Sagamore or any of the state psychiatric hospitals. Since South Oaks became part of the North Shore LIJ Health System, it has expanded. It refers patients to Sagamore for longer-term care, but often there is such a long waiting list, it becomes a futile exercise.

In my view, closing Sagamore is not a bad idea if the state shifts its resources to the private, nonprofit agencies.

Dr. Yogendra Upadhyay, Roslyn Heights

Editor's note: The writer is retired as the medical director of South Oaks Hospital.

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