LAKE RONKONKOMA - Concern is rising tonight over a state proposal to shut down and consolidate psychiatric centers across New York.
State officials say the move could save them $20 million, and shift focus to community-based programs. Critics say the move would only hurt the children who depend on the centers' services.
The proposal would mean that Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills would no longer be providing inpatient services for children. Those who need that level of care would be forced to go to Bellerose, Queens or the Bronx.
The state defended the plan, saying it can treat more people in community programs rather than institutions. The proposal would also create two new outpatient centers that would have expanded services which the vast majority of current consumers rely upon.
Officials say some of the money saved by closing hospitals will be diverted back into mental health care.
Sagamore and Pilgrim State are both slated to become regional outpatient centers by 2015.