WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center slated to close

The future is looking bleak for families fighting to save the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center (CPC) in West Seneca.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced plans last summer to overhaul state psychiatric services over four years by consolidating 24 inpatient hospitals into 15 regional centers and establishing more outpatient service hubs. The state says the West Seneca facility will be among those closing, but one lawmaker leading the charge to save the psychiatric center says it is not a done deal.

Allison Scanlon credits CPC with “saving her family.”

“Who has been telling them this is a good idea? Because nobody thinks it is. None of my co-workers, none of the people I go to church with, none of my neighbors… nobody thinks this is a good idea! As soon as you tell them, they’re like, ‘WHAT?!’” Scanlon said.

Like so many whose lives have been touched by CPC, she is deeply disturbed by the State Office of Mental Health’s (OHM) plan to close the facility, and move children to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center at Elmwood and Forest.

Sen. Patrick Gallivan said, “It’s not the right decision. Research back in the 60s showed that children should not be in the same setting as adults.”

OMH says the consolidation will only move children and staff. The inpatient program will continue, no clinical workers will be let go, and children will be in their own secure wards, separate from adult psych patients.

“Excellent service is not defined by infrastructure,” officials wrote in a release.

But Scanlon retorted, “We beg to differ with that, wholeheartedly. Families are delighted with CPC. They need CPC. They’re comfortable with CPC. It’s in a rural setting, it’s a safe setting. Anybody that goes out there has parking, and there’s a guard right there. It’s very conducive to families coming to visit.”

Sen. Gallivan agrees.

“It has the lowest reinstitutionalization rate of any facility in the state, which I think is a tremendous accomplishment,” he said.

Because no jobs or patient treatment programs would be eliminated, consolidating would save only the cost of maintaining CPC’s building.

Sen. Gallivan says he has personally suggested to Governor Cuomo that the administrative offices of Developmental Disabilities Services, which are located next door to CPC in a mostly-empty complex, be moved to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center instead.

“The question I raise it, what is more important? Saving a little bit of money or helping people?” Sen. Gallivan said.

The consolidation of psychiatric centers across the state will be worked out in the 2014 fiscal year budget, which is due April 1st.

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