FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 28, 2011
SCHUMER URGES VA TO ESTABLISH PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP WITH SITRIN HEALTH CARE CENTER, SUPPORT EXPANSION SO SITRIN CAN SERVE AS A MODEL IN VETS CARE FOR THE FUTURE
In Personal Letter To VA Secretary Shinseki, Schumer Highlights Sitrin's Top-Notch Treatment of Veterans - Helps Vets Transition Into Civilian Life
To Meet Increasing Demand for Specialized Treatment, Sitrin Seeks to Expand Treatment Center; Schumer Asks Shinseki to Partner in Sitrin's Pioneering Initiatives
Schumer: From PTSD to Traumatic Brain Injury, to Severe Wounds, Sitrin is a Unique Model for Top-Notch Veteran Care; Partnership with VA is Key to Much-Needed Expansion
Following a report detailing the unaddressed mental health needs of veterans, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer wrote to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki, urging him to create a public-private partnership with Sitrin Health Care Center to help improve access to mental health care for Central New York’s veterans. In his letter, Schumer highlighted Sitrin Health Care Center in New Hartford as a successful model for addressing the comprehensive physical and mental health needs of veterans, service members, and their families in less densely populated parts of the country. As Sitrin Health Care Center seeks to expand its facilities with construction of a new medical treatment center, Schumer urged Secretary Shinseki to support the expansion and personally tour the facility to see the advantages such a facility could provide both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.
“Every day the Sitrin Health Care Facility helps our brave veterans receive the top-notch care they need and deserve, all while surrounded by their loved ones,” Schumer said. “This specialized treatment center is a pioneer in veterans care, and I urge Secretary Shinseki to personally visit New Hartford and see for himself the critical work being done at Sitrin. I hope that VA will help make this facility expansion a reality.”
In response to increasing demand, Sitrin is undertaking a major expansion program that includes a residential treatment center to provide specialized services for individuals and families who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, traumatic amputation, shrapnel wounds and burns, depression, substance abuse and similar conditions. In addition, Sitrin’s comprehensive approach is unique in that all of these services are in close proximity to one another. Given the large number of returning service members from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from multiple injuries this type of center is sorely needed; implementing it on a broad scale will only be possible through coordinated efforts of leaders at all levels, including a partnership with the VA and DOD. Sitrin is exploring partnerships with the VA and DOD in order to build and operate this medical treatment center, handicapped-accessible overnight cabins, athletic fields and more. Sitrin now employs 550 New Yorkers, and the next expansion would add 65 more employees. In his letter, Schumer highlights to Secretary Shinseki the critical work that Sitrin is doing for our nations veterans, and urges that he support this expansion.
Sitrin Health Care Facility has been providing high quality medical care since 1951. Sitrin is a regional provider of health and rehabilitative services to returning veterans, and also offers services to active duty service members and their families. Sitrin provides long-term care services, residential care for adults with developmental disabilities, adult day health care programs, and inpatient medical rehabilitation. Sitrin also has an adaptive sports program for people with physical disabilities; its participants have even participated in the Paralympics. The cutting edge care center provides a holistic approach to patients and families by also operating a children’s camp, using the latest methods in sports adaptive therapy and providing support services to families of veterans and patients.
The state-of-the-art facilities at Sitrin have the potential to provide an enormous benefit to Central New York’s population of veterans and service members with specialized needs. Partnering with VA and DOD could serve as a highly successful model for veteran and service member mental health care in less populated areas across the country. Sitrin’s expanded facilities would provide access to top notch medical care for veterans, all while being able to stay close to their family and their community. Schumer urges Secretary Shinseki to use Sitrin as model for future.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to Secretary Shinseki appears below:
Dear Secretary Shinseki:
I applaud the administration’s commitment to the needs of America’s military families. In particular I am pleased by the multi-agency drive to address the mental health needs of service members, veterans, and their families. New Yorkers were reminded last month of the intense challenges in this regard, by a troubling report from the Rand Corporation which focused on the mental health needs of veterans in New York. As the President highlighted in recent remarks, the unique needs of military families require creative solutions that cross agency boundaries and cut through traditional divisions between the public and private sectors. I write to call your attention to some New York-based successes in this regard, and to seek your assistance in exploring opportunities for supporting and furthering these successes. In particular, there is an excellent opportunity for partnership with the private sector and coordination with DOD to meet wounded warrior needs in Central New York.
The Syracuse region of New York is host to Fort Drum, a pre-eminent Army installation. This area also has a disproportionately large population of veterans – nearly fifty percent more than the national average. While the region’s veterans are well-served by the Syracuse VA Medical Center (VAMC), and while service members have an excellent hospital at Fort Drum, there are some healthcare needs which are not currently met by these facilities, either due to geography or specialized care requirements. One facility that meets some of these needs is the Charles T. Sitrin Health Care Center, in New Hartford. Among other services, it provides inpatient and outpatient medical rehabilitation, psychological services, and also hosts an adaptive sports program approved by the U.S. Paralympic Committee. Notably, Sitrin is also an authorized TRICARE provider.
In response to new and anticipated demand, Sitrin is undertaking a major expansion program that includes a residential treatment center to provide specialized services for wounded warriors, families, and others who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, traumatic amputation, shrapnel wounds and burns, depression and substance abuse, among other conditions. This center is an excellent model for the future, and taking full advantage of the model will only be possible through coordinated efforts across agencies and with the private sector. I urge you to explore a partnership with Sitrin to allow this expansion come to fruition and enable veterans to receive the specialized care that they need.
I welcome you to take part in a visit to New York, where we can draw attention to programs and services that are supporting military families today, and where we can encourage and enable the ground-breaking work which will provide our veterans and their families the best possible care in the years to come.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator