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I am writing in response to the former employee of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center who said the center should proceed with plans to renovate the Richardson Towers. I have a mentally ill son and have been involved at the center for 26 years. I am also a member of the Family Advisory Committee. I would like to clarify the position of advocates for the mentally ill.

We do not oppose the renovation of the Richardson Towers. The problem is that the estimated cost of this renovation has been in the range of $10 million to $150 million. Only one proposal has come to the task force with the funds to support a renovation. The rest of the proposals have included tearing down buildings that are currently housing outpatients. One proposes removing the rehabilitation building that provides services for 600 outpatients on a daily basis. These buildings are not part of the Richardson Towers.

Integrating the mentally ill into community residences should be done whenever possible. However, the success of deinstitutionalization is only as effective as the outpatient follow-up services the community can provide. Many of these services are currently being provided by the Psychiatric Center in the buildings that some have suggested be taken down.

If being politically correct means that caring for vulnerable human beings should take priority over buildings, I'll take politically correct.


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