Save Our Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center

WNY Children’s Psych Center Should Remain in West Seneca

Published August 8, 2017 Originally posted in the Artvoice

Dear ARTVOICE, On July 26 NYS Apellate Judge NeMoyer decided to continue weighing whether or not the WNY Children’s Psych Center should be merged with the Buffalo Psych Center, a facility that currently only serves adults. Anyone familiar with this case knows the gravity of the situation, but our local media has overlooked some crucial facts. For example, why did the NYS Office of Mental Health appeal the State Supreme Court’s decision to block construction at the Buffalo Psych Center? Was it only due to the financial costs of maintaining the building in West Seneca? Why did Governor Cuomo sign a bill that discontinues prosecuting 16 and 17 year olds as adults only in criminal matters? Does he not sympathize with WNY adolescents dealing with mental health issues? Ann Marie T. Sullivan, the Commissioner of th Office of Mental Health, claims that community health services need to be consolidated to save money. Does integrating children and adults into one facility really save money? If so, at what cost to the children? Sullivan has admitted there are outpatient (and one inpatient) sex offenders receiving treatment at the Buffalo Psych Center. How is it safe for children to be on the same grounds as sex offenders receiving mental health treatment? Indeed, the Buffalo News has already reported how the Buffalo Psych Center failed to prevent incidents. (http://buffalonews.com/2016/04/16/girl-14-rescued-from-lethal-chokehold-in-atta ck-by-psychiatric-patient/) If other psych centers that cater to young people have been merged with adult facilities across the state, how have the challenges of serving minors and adults been overcome? How will quality services be provided to children and adults if we merge those centers? NYS Senator Patrick Gallivan has suggested using the West Seneca facility as an Opiate Treatment Center (http://www.twcnews.com/nys/buffalo/politics/2017/06/29/cuomo-gallivan-kearns -wnycpc-petition-psychiatric.html).This is an excellent idea. In the midst of the opiate crisis we need more services for those struggling with addiction. I personally lost a best friend to a heroin overdose where fentanyl, a highly potent opioid, had been cut into the batch. I have personally spoken with people who could not get immediate inpatient care or had to wait to get into a treatment center. This is unacceptable. If the psych centers are merged, Senator Gallivan’s proposal should be embraced. Above all, I do not understand why we would reduce services for adolescents who are dealing with mental health issues. If anything, we need more, not fewer, services, especially in rural areas. The local news media needs to investigate and report on all aspects of the proposed OMH plan. We must reach out to Commissioner Sullivan and pressure Governor Cuomo to change his plan. A bill that provides sufficient funds for the WNYCPC to remain in West Seneca would be the most responsible step forward. In absence of that, converting that facility into a drug treatment center while responsibly administering services to minors and adults in Buffalo should be our top priority. Our young people deserve nothing less. have become a law.