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Local News

April 19, 2014

Mental health meeting drew high-ranking guests to area

A local senator pulled together some heavy hitters this week to discuss the future of mental health care in the area.

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, convened a meeting with 19 participants to review the impact of Bassett Medical Center’s decision to close its 10-bed inpatient psychiatric unit in Cooperstown. The state is reviewing Bassett’s application for the closure, which would mean patients needing inpatient services would have to travel outside the area.

John V. Tauriello, deputy commissioner and counsel at the state Office of Mental Health, Linda Nelson, OMH central New York field office director, and David Wollner, legislative coordinator at the Office of Mental Health, attended the meeting Thursday with the senator, who has an office in Oneonta.

Dr. William Streck, president and chief executive officer of Bassett Healthcare, Karen Huxtable, Bassett’s director of public and media relations, and Dr. Celeste Johns, chief of psychiatry, were present, a media release said.

Others attending were Susan Matt, director of community services for Otsego County; Marion Mossman, chairwoman of the Community Services Board, Otsego County; Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller; Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayor and Lt. Douglas Brenner; Oneonta Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon; and Sgt. Ray Freer of the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office.

Rina Reba represented the Otsego County and Delaware County chapters of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Rep. Kathy Clark, Kathy Clark, R-Otego, chairwoman of the Otsego County Board of Representatives, and Rep. Donald Lindberg, R-Worcester, who is chairman of the county board’s Health and Education Committee, were present.

Attending from local colleges were Margaret L. Drugovich, president of Hartwick College; Gary Robinson, director of counseling services at Hartwick; and Steve Perry, vice president of student development at the State University College at Oneonta.

Streck said Bassett appreciated Seward’s support for its funding applications and for his interest meeting mental health care needs of the area population.

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