Monday, November 28, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Sen. Patrick Gallivan opposes closing of children's psychiatric center

posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, government, mental health, Sen. Gallivan.

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Press release, photos submitted.

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) and Assemblyman Michael Kearns (D, West Seneca) joined members of the Western New York (WNY) State Legislature Delegation in calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Office of Mental Health (OMH) to keep the WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center at its current location in West Seneca. Despite bipartisan objections from members of the WNY delegation and families served by the center, the OMH is moving ahead with its plans to close the facility and transfer adolescent patients to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.   

Gallivan and Kearns have learned the state is prepared to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to move forward with its relocation plans. The legislators are urging residents to call the OMH and the governor’s office to voice opposition to the project.

"Efforts by the Office of Mental Health to close this center and move these patients to an adult oriented facility like the Buffalo Psychiatric Center make no sense,” Gallivan said. “I have worked with families of patients, mental health experts and others who believe such a move will jeopardize the mental health and well being of children who receive care at the West Seneca location. These adolescent patients deserve and require special treatment in an environment that allows them and their families to feel safe and comfortable.”

The Buffalo Psychiatric Center stopped treating children more than 40 years ago when doctors determined that adolescents have specific and special needs when it comes to mental health treatment. That is why the WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center was built. The West Seneca facility opened in 1970 and serves patients from at least 17 New York counties, including Wyoming County. 

“It is not a difficult decision to permanently keep this facility in West Seneca,” Kearns said. “On virtually every metric this institution excels and exceeds other similar institutions in New York State. WNYCPC has the lowest 30 and 90 day readmission rates in all of New York State. This is important from a long-term cost perspective because readmissions for mental health case over the course of a lifetime can result in many thousands of dollars for the treatment of a single person. The savings to New York State are long term and real. Not keeping the facility in this setting is pennywise and pound foolish, because it overlooks the long-term savings and the input and voices of those treated by the state and surroundings.”  

During a 2015 public hearing on the proposed move, parents, former patients, family members of patients, workers, community activists and academics spoke out against plans presented by the OMH. Many said the tranquil surrounding provided at the West Seneca campus is important for the children who are undergoing significant mental trauma and the families desperately trying to protect these children from danger.

Support for keeping the West Seneca facility open is strong among members of the WNY delegation and other local officials.

“Western New York Children’s campus is a tranquil environment where children receive the individualized, wrap-around services required to treat complicated adolescent challenges,” said Sen. Rob Ortt, chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health. “Buffalo Psychiatric Center is an entirely separate institution – in its layout and its mission – so we are alarmed over the prospect of comingling children with an adult population. Our foremost concern is, and must remain, children facing severe emotional, psychological, and physical trauma. I will continue to fight alongside my state colleagues in support of keeping these vulnerable children where they belong – in a safe environment surrounded by their peers and out of an adult psychiatric facility.”   

“To say we are disappointed, frustrated and extremely concerned with the unfortunate planning that is underway would be an understatement,” said West Seneca Supervisor Sheila Meegan. “Time and time again Albany officials continue to make decisions that impact Western New York without truly understanding the impact it will have on so many families. The timing of this RFP couldn’t have been more insensitive.”

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