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Expanded behavioral health urgent care moving forward


Around-the-clock access to urgent mental health and addiction treatment services are coming to St. Lawrence County.

The St. Lawrence County Community Services Board (CSB) recently approved Citizen Advocates’ proposal to establish a 24/7 Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center in Ogdensburg.

“Many communities already have 24/7 urgent care centers for physical health, but less common are those that provide urgent care for mental health or addiction treatment,” said James Button, CEO of Citizen Advocates. “We are deeply grateful to the St. Lawrence County CSB for unanimously approving this innovative service and increased access to behavioral health services, which comes with the additional supports individuals need to live a healthy and full life.”

“Increasing access to vital, safety-net care and a comprehensive range of Behavioral Health Services in St. Lawrence County is essential,” said Mary Jones, Chair of the St. Lawrence County Community Services Board.  “We are encouraged by the level of engagement Citizen Advocates has demonstrated in the past several years, especially the school-based services being provided to several of our local districts.”

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.  Peer specialists are specially trained counselors who often have lived experience with a mental health or addiction diagnosis, or both.

As an extension of Citizen Advocates Behavioral Health Clinics, the 24-hour center is expected to offer many of the same mental health and addiction treatment therapies. In addition, there is potential to offer access to temporary stabilizing treatment services for individuals on a path to recovery, outpatient detoxification services, along with linkages to other community services such as transportation, housing assistance and employment training.  If approved, pending the application and review by various state agencies, these services are available to children, adolescents and adults.

“It’s also important to note this is all available on an outpatient basis in a completely voluntary setting,” said Dr. Joshua Frank, Chief Medical Officer for Citizen Advocates. “Our main focus is to provide prompt, effective, recovery-focused services in a respectful, patient-centered environment.”

“The personalized, one-on-one care we offer is proven to lead to better health outcomes, and in general, is less costly than hospitalization,” Dr. Frank added. “The individualized treatment and recovery plans we develop are a targeted approach intended to reduce or eliminate avoidable ER visits, law enforcement encounters or use of emergency responders.”

For perspective, the Ogdensburg area ranks higher than most others in the state when it comes to hospitalization rates for adult alcohol use, substance use, and hospital discharges due to opioid use.  Many of these individuals were traveling to Citizen Advocates Crisis & Recovery Center in Malone, which is also a 24/7 Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center, to receive treatment. To help provide more convenient access, a Behavioral Health Clinic was opened in Massena in 2019.  Consistent with this approach, Citizen Advocates is further increasing access with the now eventual addition of the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center in Ogdensburg.

Citizen Advocates is tentatively scheduled to open the 24/7-hour center in Ogdensburg by the end of 2021, pending additional state and local approvals.

To learn more about 24/7 crisis care services offered by Citizen Advocates, click here.