Children’s Psychiatric Center should remain where it is
The Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center once again is in the news since an advocate has conducted a personal sit-in to prevent the center from being closed and its patients and staff moved to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.
Her position as well as that of the Western New York delegation of elected officials, former patients and their families and former and current staff is that the center was begun in 1970 to serve children separately from adults and it has worked extremely well. The center has the lowest re-hospitalization rate in the state out of all children and adult facilities and additionally boasts one of the lowest rates of seclusion and restraint, according to the Save Our WNYCPC Coalition.
Recent reports indicate that this closure has been proposed and the center has been given a reprieve for the past three years. However, as long ago as 2001, the state and then-Gov. George Pataki have wanted to close WNYCPC and move children to BPC.
Lynn, mother of Angela, who was a patient of WNYCPC at that time, publicly appealed to keep WNYCPC open. “Let’s keep kids with kids, in mental health centers designed for them,” she stated in The Buffalo News (July, 29, 2001).
A staff psychologist at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center Children’s Unit prior to the opening of WNYCPC stated in a 2001 letter to Everybody’s Column that the new facility “was a great improvement in the treatment of children” and believed “it is absolutely wrong to return the Children’s Unit to Forest Avenue.”
In a Sept. 7, 2001, article, News staff reporter Gene Warner quoted Bonnie Glazer, executive director of Child & Adolescent Treatment Services at that time, that “there will be security issues that would require creation of a very restrictive environment for children” that “would have a negative impact on the quality of treatment the kids get there.”
As in 2001 and since, the rationale for closing WNYCPC has not been for clinical or therapeutic reasons but primarily fiscal. The time is now for the state and its current governor to act on behalf of the children who need this facility to remain where it is and grant funding for its perpetual existence.
Paul Synor, LCSW