Oswego Health’s Plan To Relocate Behavioral Health Services Moves Ahead

OSWEGO – At Monday’s Physical Services Committee meeting, Oswego Health requested council consideration for the use of public space by way of a permenant easement of property adjacent to 29 E. Cayuga St., the site of the proposed Oswego Health Behavioral Health Services facility. The request was sent to the full council for review.

On February 21, the Oswego Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved a special use permit for business occupancy, moving the Oswego Health Behavioral Health Services relocation project forward.

As Oswego Health renews its Behavioral Health Services facilities, with assistance from a state grant for $13 million, it will also repurpose the long-time vacant commercial building.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the $13 million grant award to Oswego Health last July. The grant is part of the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program.

This funding will improve patient care through the development of adult and geriatric inpatient services as well as outpatient services that are integrated with primary care, according to Oswego Health.

Under the grant, Oswego Health is required to develop new BHS facilities, which required finding the right building to renovate.

Operation Oswego County provided assistance during the search by showing them buildings fitting their specifications.

Oswego Health selected the former Price Chopper building, 29 E. Cayuga St., Oswego, which, at the time, was owned by the County of Oswego IDA.

“The IDA had purchased the former Price Chopper building from the Port of Oswego Authority,” said L. Michael Treadwell, executive director of Operation Oswego County and CEO for the IDA. “The Port had originally purchased the building with bonds, making the sale to the IDA a complicated process. With that done, the sale of the building from the IDA to Oswego Health will be a much simpler, more timely process.”

On September 27, Oswego Health reached an agreement with the IDA to purchase the building and will completely transform it to house renewed BHS inpatient and outpatient services, with plans to add more health services.

The easement being sought is a triangular piece that measures approximately 40 feet by 40 feet by 56 feet and is required to accommodate the driveway leading up to the front entrance of the facility, City Attorney Kevin Caraccioli told the committee Monday night.

The parcel in question is small and adjacent to the walking trail leading to Fort Ontario, he said, adding that granting the easement will not interfere with the public’s use of the walking trail.

“We are excited to be moving forward with this project. It will not only improve our BHS services and facilities, but also allows them to remain close to Oswego Hospital, which is a critical aspect of this project as patients and their caregivers frequently travel between these two locations,” said Oswego Health President and CEO Michael Harlovic. “I also want to thank the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency for its support as they transfer this property to the health system.”

Oswego Health plans on renovating the 42,000-square-foot building into a behavioral health facility with a 20-bed adult and 12-bed geriatric unit, along with outpatient and primary care services.

The facility will be built to fit the neighborhood by adding green space and providing private, off-street access to the current building.

It will also provide an anchor for employment within the city of Oswego, including “in excess of 100 jobs, the city attorney said.

An estimated 25 jobs are also planned to be created as the services at the location grow.

Nationally, it is estimated that at any given time, approximately one in five individuals has symptoms related to mental health. By developing modern, convenient, and confidential services, Oswego Health is improving access to care for residents throughout the region who require these specialized services.

Oswego Health is the only comprehensive inpatient and outpatient BHS provider in Oswego County, since acquiring these services from Oswego County in 1981.

In 2016, Oswego Health had 785 discharges from its BHS inpatient program. During that same timeframe, there were 20,000 adult outpatient visits and 10,000 outpatient visits for the Child and Family Services Program.

Currently, the health system provides care at the Oswego County Building on Bunner Street in Oswego, as well as other locations throughout Oswego County.

The health system will relocate its inpatient and outpatient BHS from Bunner Street to the new site on East Cayuga Street.

“Oswego Health is grateful for the support of each local, state and federal official that has assisted in the development of the grant and the acquisition of this site,” Harlovic said. “We are eager to build a facility that physicians, staff and residents will be proud to call their own.”

Treadwell noted that the healthcare industry has been and continues to be a vital and integral component of Oswego County’s local economy.

“This project certainly will help to enhance our quality of life and expand our economic base for the benefit of Oswego County citizens for years to come,” Treadwell said.