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For 118 years, the Buffalo Psychiatric Center has provided services to the mentally ill from its main campus at 400 Forest Ave. There has been a good deal of community discussion in recent months about redeveloping a 50-acre portion of the property that is no longer used and includes the landmark H.H. Richardson Buildings.

As executive director of the Psychiatric Center, I would like to respond to the Nov. 12 News editorial, which proposes that the entire 89-acre site be given over to reuse of an unspecified nature. The editorial implies that the inpatient services of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center are no longer needed. It also makes no mention of the residential, vocational, health and wellness, and other outpatient services provided to mental-health recipients on our site.

While it is true that the general hospitals now provide acute or short-term mental-health care and that there is greater availability of community-based treatment and rehabilitation, medium and long-term inpatient services are available only at the Psychiatric Center. These services continue to be essential.

The long-term Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health Services published last year by the New York State Office of Mental Health confirms this need. There is nothing in the plan that implies or supports terminating these services or closing the Psychiatric Center.

Anyone who has a friend or relative who has battled a serious mental illness knows only too well how important it is to have this resource available when extended care and rehabilitation are needed. The land at Forest and Elmwood avenues was set aside for the very purpose of meeting this critical need.

We have gone on record supporting local initiatives for redeveloping the buildings and land on our property for which we have no long-term need. We will continue to do so. We believe the 50 available acres offer the potential for exciting new uses that will have a positive urban impact.

However, the needs of those in this community who require our services must not be ignored. Any "bold and visionary" planning must take the needs of these most vulnerable citizens into account.


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