News from the Associated Press - December 20, 1013

Associated Press
December 20, 2013

Cuomo says 3 psychiatric hospitals to stay open

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo says psychiatric hospitals in northern New York and the Southern Tier that were scheduled to close next year will instead continue treating adults and children.

State officials say the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg will keep 68 beds, including 28 for children and adolescents, while another 50 community residential beds will be established.

The Greater Binghamton Health Center will maintain 16 children beds, 60 adult beds and add 60 community residential beds. The Elmira Psychiatric Center will maintain 18 beds for children, 48 adult beds and 48 community residential beds.

All three will close one adult ward.

In July, officials announced plans to overhaul the state's psychiatric services over four years by consolidating 24 in-patient hospitals statewide into 15 regional centers and establishing outpatient service hubs.


Speaker Silver urges delay of NY student database

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has sent a letter to New York Education Commissioner John King Jr. saying the department should hold off on transferring sensitive student information to a new statewide database.

The letter, also signed by nearly 50 Assembly Democrats, says the lawmakers were swayed by testimony about potential flaws in the plan to share data with Atlanta-based InBloom.

Opponents say it's too risky to store student data in servers in the so-called cloud, accessed through the Internet.

Supporters see it as a tool to track student progress and personalize instruction.

A spokesman for King says the commissioner shares concerns about the importance of protecting student privacy. Spokesman Dennis Tompkins said Thursday that while the department is confident in the portal's security and privacy protections, it will review the concerns.


NY health commissioner imposes flu precautions

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah has declared the flu now prevalent in the state, requiring hospitals and other state-regulated health facilities to ensure their personnel have either had this season's influenza vaccine or else wear masks where patients may be present.

The rule includes more than 4,000 hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers, nursing homes, hospices and home care agencies statewide. It applies to doctors, nurses, students, volunteers, contractors and even some cafeteria workers.

Shah says it's not too late for vaccinations and notes confirmed cases in more than 45 counties and all five of New York City's boroughs.

The state recorded 45,352 confirmed cases and 9,537 patients hospitalized with influenza last season. It was considered widespread for 22 weeks and cited in 14 pediatric deaths.


Pa. gas drilling decision leaves future uncertain

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania policy makers and the energy industry are thinking about their next moves after the state Supreme Court threw out significant portions of a law that limited the power of local governments to regulate the natural gas industry.

The high court on a 4-2 vote Thursday struck down portions of a 2012 law that had been crafted by Gov. Tom Corbett and his industry-friendly allies in the Legislature.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly say the decision raises more questions than it answers and could damage the growing industry. They say they're unsure what the ruling means for the millions in impact fees being collected under the law.

Pennsylvania has seen a boom in drilling and related industries rushing to exploit the Marcellus Shale underground deposits.

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