County to get urgent mental health center

Pictured from left: Dean Mason, Barton & Loguidice; Courtney Frank, operations director; Kati Jock, chief integration officer; James Button, chief executive officer of Citizens Advocates; Jay Ulrich, director of St. Lawrence County Community Services; Jennifer Dishaw, chief of staff; Paul Langdon, director of support services; Zachary Comstock, architect with Barton & Loguidice; and Chris Dumas, capital projects manager. Matt Curatolo/The Journal

OGDENSBURG — By December, the city will have an operational 24/7 Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center, the first of its kind in St. Lawrence County.

Citizen Advocates broke ground on the project Monday to begin remodeling the former Park Street Agway store at 1003 Park St. Citizens Advocates provides developmental disability, mental health and substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services throughout Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton and St. Lawrence counties.

James Button, chief executive officer of Citizen Advocates, said there is a need for around-the-clock access to urgent mental health and addiction treatment services not only in Ogdensburg but the north country.

“We recognize that people’s time of need do not fit neatly within the confines of the business day,” he said, adding “It’s a win-win for the community. Not only are we bringing much needed services to Ogdensburg and the surrounding areas but we are bringing 30 jobs as well.”

Button said that the project was made possible between a collaborative effort by the City of Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County Community Services and Rep. Elise M. Stefanik.

“Without those three entities none of this would have been possible,” Button said.

According to the Citizen Advocates, the new center would be open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, including holidays. No appointments are needed.

The treatment team includes a supervising physician, advance practice providers, registered nurses, therapists, targeted case managers, peer specialists and customer support. Targeted case managers connect individuals with services like job training or housing, often coordinated through other organizations.

Jay Ulrich, director of the county Community Services, said that this type of urgent care center is the first of its kind in the county and that its services are sorely needed.

“St. Lawrence County has fairly high rates of psychiatric ER visits,” Ulrich said. “This urgent care center will direct some of these cases and will hopefully take some of the burden off ERs.”

A similar facility in Malone, called the Citizen Advocates Crisis & Recovery Center, has cut the number of emergency room visits for mental health and addiction reasons down by 30%, according to Courtney Frank, director of Health Operations for Citizens Advocates.

Northern Tier Contracting, Gouverneur, is performing the work while Barton & Loguidice D.P.C., Watertown, is the architectural firm.

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