CORTLAND, NY (WSYR-TV) – Senator Chuck Schumer is working to ensure that thousands of people in central New York and Cortland can get their hands on the mental health care they deserve.
The condition of the current Cortland County mental health facility is quite low as it “lacks basic necessities like broadband, handicap accessibility, and cannot meet the modern needs of its patients”, according to Senator Schumer’s office.
On Friday, December 2, Senator Chuck Schumer visited downtown Cortland after working to “secure millions” for Cortland County. Schumer is pushing for a new state-of-the-art mental health facility. He wants to take an abandoned building downtown, fund it, and turn it into a mental health service facility.
Schumer said nearly $5 million in federal funding is planned to kick-start this massive expansion, which will nearly double the size of the Cortland County Mental Health Department and dramatically improve its services.
Schumer said he has already contributed $2 million of that $5 million in federal funding. However, just under $3 million of the remaining money is tied up and hasn’t been allocated to the right places yet.
To be used, the remaining money must be passed into the year-end omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2023.
“Cortland County needs and deserves a modern mental health care facility. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, rural communities were already struggling to meet mental health needs and those needs have only increased,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I fought for historic funding increases for mental health programs in COVID relief legislation and made sure that local places of help like Cortland County received were flexible so they can invest in the long-term health of their communities. Now Congress must pass the final piece of the puzzle and provide the last $3 million so Cortland County can turn this vacant building into the state-of-the-art mental health facility that rural residents of central New York deserve.
Sharon MacDougall, director of community services for the Cortland County Department of Mental Health, said, “These funds would provide critical financial assistance and the opportunity to direct additional investments into the county’s behavioral health care system. Our behavioral health community will benefit immensely from this investment. I’m so grateful to the senator for caring about Cortland.
The goal? To create a “state-of-the-art one-stop shop,” Schumer’s office said.
According to Cortland County, more than a thousand patients are already enrolled in their mental health care programs and that number continues to grow. They estimate an 8 percent increase next year alone.
The Cortland County Clinic program hit a 30-year record for total sessions in August 2022 with nearly 1,734 total sessions for 850 patients in a single month.
If approved, when the facility is complete, it will double the space for county treatment programs. It will also have upgrades, like an ADA-compliant elevator and high-speed internet connection. Thus, improving the quality of telehealth treatments.
“The funding will provide the Cortland County Department of Mental Health with the space it needs to continue to offer three NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH)-accredited outpatient treatment programs: clinical, treatment adult day care and children’s mental health rehabilitation services. The funding will also help the Cortland County Mental Health Department expand its children’s mental health rehabilitation services,” Schumer’s office added.
Schumer says he “has ensured that state and local fiscal stimulus funds are flexible to meet the long-term health and economic needs of communities.”
If all goes as planned, for fiscal year 2023, Schumer is seeking to pass a comprehensive government spending bill by December 2022.
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