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Schumer: Vacant Cortland building to become 'game changer' mental health facility

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at the site of the future Cortland County Mental Health Department facility.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at the site of the future Cortland County Mental Health Department facility.

(WRVO) - A vacant building in Cortland is set to house the mental health department serving the county and central New York. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Friday that $2 million in American Rescue Plan funds would be dedicated to a new mental health facility in downtown Cortland. Schumer said Cortland’s current mental health department building lacks access to full-speed internet so services like telehealth are often not reliable. “The vacant building behind us right here will be transformed into one-stop shop for residents' mental health needs,” Schumer said. “Double the space of the previous facility. That's a game changer.” Schumer said increased mental health needs during the pandemic highlighted the need for a more modern health care facility as more people are seeking help. He said more than 1000 rural residents utilize the program offered by Cortland’s mental health department and that number is growing. “Cortland mental health just hit a 30-year high for patients in the clinical program and they expect another 10% increase next year,” the majority leader said. “The numbers are going up and that is not a bad thing. That is a good thing because it means people can get treatment.” The facility, to be located on Port Watson Street, is equipped with fiber-optic internet for services like telehealth and has secure parking allowing more county residents to be treated. Sharon MacDougall, director of community services for the Cortland County Mental Health Department, said moving to a county-owned building will help reduce costs. “The building's already been purchased,” MacDougall said. “Renovation plans are already in process and we're hopeful within the next two years to get this renovated and move forward. This financial help means everything to make that successful.” More money could be coming as Schumer said nearly $3 million is earmarked for the facility in the omnibus spending bill. Copyright 2022 WRVO.