OSWEGO, NY – After sitting dormant for nearly two decades, 29 E. Cayuga St., Oswego, is experiencing a rebirth.
In July of 2017, Oswego Health was awarded a $13 million grant from the New York State Department of Health for the transformation of its behavioral health services in the county.
The funds will allow Oswego Health to construct a new 32-bed inpatient unit and related outpatient behavioral health clinic facilities at the site of the former Oswego Price Chopper building.
The purposes of the project are to:
• Improve the overall financial condition and long-term sustainability of Oswego Health;
• Transform Behavioral Health Services to a new model of care with the resulting impact of enhancing behavioral health services in Oswego County; and
• Preserve behavioral health services in the county.
Jeff Coakley, COO for Oswego Health, welcomed the large crowd to Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony, with the building in the background.
Oswego Health has been working on this project since 2011, according to Michael Harlovic, president and CEO for Oswego Health.
Thursday was important not just because of the event, but also because it was World Mental Health Day, he said.
Those attending the event received green ribbons to wear to “raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health,” he said.
“Suicide is the leading cause of death in the United States; it is a major preventable health problem,” Harlovic said. “More than 33,000 people take their own lives each year. Among all New York State counties, Oswego County is ranked among the top 25 percent for total deaths by suicide by year and the trend is continuing to increase every year.”
It’s one of the many reasons Oswego Health has been on a mission to transform behavioral mental health care in Oswego County, he added.
On his second day on the job in Oswego, he received “a pretty amazing call.”
The Governor’s Office informed Oswego Health it was the recipient of a $13 million grant.
He said he couldn’t take the credit, “as the groundwork was well-laid before I arrived,”
Oswego Health will renovate 42,000 square feet of the former grocery store, to feature 32 inpatient beds.
Patients will find the new location offers a welcoming, soothing and healing environment that includes secure outdoor spaces, comfortable interior areas and a kitchen area.
To assist those that utilize these services become healthier overall, primary care services will be available onsite.
Services that are offered currently at the BHS Bunner Street location, the outpatient clinic and Assertive Community Treatment team also will be relocated to the new facility, Coakley said.
The facility is a short drive from Oswego Hospital’s main campus on West Sixth Street, making it more convenient for physicians and other staff members.
The county IDA had considered other plans the site. However, after they heard about Oswego Health’s proposal they agreed it was the best use for the site.
Oswego County Legislature Chair James Weatherup said, “Oswego Health will move its operations from a county owned facility to this site. And, while we are losing a good tenant, we are happy that they have continued their commitment to this county and this city.”
The site was a part of the city’s downtown revitalization plan, Mayor Billy Barlow said.
“This plan from Oswego Health developed and it just made sense. We have the need here in the city of Oswgo and Oswego County to put this site here,” the mayor said. “It was just perfect timing; it coincides perfectly with the downtown revitalization plan.”
“I am most excited about this project because now, it seemed liike every tme there was a new announcement or a new building it was ‘that is nice, that is great – but what about the east side?’ So finally, we’re going to see some of the love, if you will, spread across the river,” he continued.
Everything is all meshing together perfectly, Barlow said.
“It’s exciting. We’re going to continue to build next year into 2020 and it’s not just about this site and not just about this project. It’s about serving the community, creating those jobs with this project. We’ll have local labor onboard we’ll be putting jobs in the heart of our downtown, the east side of out downtown to stimulate the growth of the local economy,” he said.
For more information about Oswego Health, please visit www.oswegohealth.org