Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns on Sunday said he will urge state legislators Monday to block the move of patients from the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center in West Seneca to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.
During a news conference outside the gates of the adult facility at 400 Forest Ave., Kearns was joined by Dave Chudy, coordinator of the Save Our WNY Children's Hospital, and Stephanie McLean-Beathley, a former therapist at the West Seneca facility, in pushing for the action.
Kearns, D-Buffalo, said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who first proposed closing the West Seneca facility four years ago, is pressing for legislative approval of the new state budget, which contains funding for the move, by Saturday. Kearn said he and State Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma, will be taking the case to both chambers.
Administration officials believe closing West Seneca and moving patients to Buffalo would put them closer to a range of community-based, health care services, and children would be kept away from adults with separate treatment areas, entrances and recreation areas.
Construction bids are currently being sought on $12.5 million in work on the estimated $22 million price tag of the transition.
Calling the governor's proposal "penny wise and pound foolish," Kearns also said he wants reports from the state Office of Mental Health on two recent attacks at the Buffalo facility.
Kearns pointed out that a nurse at the Buffalo facility was knocked unconscious Saturday afternoon by an adult patient.
He also said he wants to know if the Cuomo administration made a financial settlement with the family of the 14-year-old Buffalo girl who was attacked last year by an adult patient of the Buffalo facility who had neighborhood roaming privileges.
Chudy said the governor's plan calls for four floors of a section of the Strozzi Building, currently housing adult patients only, to be set aside for living space for children.
McLean-Beathley said that currently, children as young as 4 years old stay about two months at the 46-patient West Seneca facility, which has skilled professionals who work in an atmosphere conducive to children. The children are free to roam the West Seneca grounds, she said.
If moved to the Strozzi Building, they would be in danger of being confronted by adult patients who have full privileges to roam the campus, Kearns said.
Kearns also noted that although state mental health officials say sex offenders have been moved out of the Buffalo facility, they won't disclose where they have been sent. This could pose another danger to the child patients, he added.
The Cuomo plan to close West Seneca "is not the right solution," said Kearns, who pointed out that 2,100 West Seneca residents he surveyed recently oppose the closing of the center.
Story topics: Shared