Allison R. Scanlon: Children flourish in their own facility - The Buffalo News

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Allison R. Scanlon: Children flourish in their own facility

Resolute in Lancaster, that’s me. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still moving ahead with his plan to close our Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center (CPC) and move our children in with mentally ill adults in Buffalo Psychiatric Center. I am dumbfounded with the insistence of the Office of Mental Health that infrastructure doesn’t matter in the healing process of our children and youth.

On May 28th, the acting commissioner of mental health for New York State was in Buffalo and met with seven family members at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Along with her were representatives from Buffalo Psychiatric Center and Children’s Psychiatric Center. We were given the opportunity to listen to what their plans were for the grounds and the two floors in the Strozzi Building where the children will be housed. While it was very interesting to see what they are envisioning, it remained indisputable to the seven family representatives that CPC cannot be replicated and shouldn’t be replicated.

Why are they trying to close a facility that was specially designed for our mentally ill children? It’s because they want to redirect funds to outpatient services. At the time of their visit CPC had 19 children waiting for a bed to open for them. CPC has 46 beds currently and it is going to be reduced to 36 if they move the children into Buffalo Psychiatric Center; 36 beds to cover 19 counties. Absurd. Find the money you need, Governor Cuomo, from some other source.

The thought of our governor ignoring the outcry from parents in Western New York is unacceptable. We are talking about mentally ill 4- to 18-year-olds being placed into a hospital setting with mentally ill adults where they may or may not be safe. We are talking about removing them from a facility that has the lowest rate of reinstitutionalization across the state. Why not promote CPC as a role model for every state in the union to pattern? CPC does not look like a hospital and doesn’t feel like a hospital. At CPC, as they heal, kids can still be kids.

Western New Yorkers showed up in the hundreds to attend a fundraiser on June 8 supporting the fight to keep CPC open. CPC is already a center of excellence. The children will not receive better therapeutic treatment at Buffalo Psychiatric Center because the infrastructure does matter. Children flourish at CPC.

Everyone that I have spoken with, excluding the commissioner of mental health and Buffalo Psychiatric Center management, thinks this is one of the worst ideas this governor has come up with and it took them about five seconds each to reach that conclusion. Leave CPC alone and let it flourish.

Moving these children out of Buffalo Psychiatric Center back in the 1960s was based on studies of what was best for the children. Putting them back into that facility 50 years later is not based on any new study, but on the state budget. If the children will not be better served at BPC, then don’t move them.

It’s pretty simple. Western New York families are not going to be silent on this and we are not going to go away. Governor Cuomo has been invited multiple times to come and see both facilities for himself, but has not made it a priority.

Western New Yorkers, help the weakest among us and voice your opposition to this egregious decision. It must be reversed. The governor must do the right thing.

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