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Letter: Governor should reverse decision to close WNYCPC

Governor should reverse decision to close WNYCPC

In a recent letter, New York State Mental Health Commissioner Ann Sullivan suggests that relocating the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center (WNYCPC) to the campus of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center is a winning strategy. I disagree.

The WNYCPC in West Seneca is committed to the treatment of emotionally traumatized children and their families. On virtually every metric, it exceeds similar institutions and has the lowest 30- and 90-day readmission rates. The park-like setting provides tranquility for both the children undergoing treatment and the families desperately trying to protect them.

The Buffalo Psychiatric Center stopped treating children more than 40 years ago when doctors determined that adolescents have specific and special needs when it comes to mental health treatment. That is why WNYCPC was built. These needs have not changed, the research has not changed, and this decision by the Office of Mental Health must not be driven by money alone. If additional services are needed, it is up to the Legislature to appropriate the necessary funding.

A “brand new, state-of-the-art facility” is not being built. Several floors of an institution intended for adults are being retrofitted for children. A 12-foot high fence will surround the outdoor recreation space.

This is not a win; it is a disgrace.

This decision can be reversed. The Legislature unanimously passed a bill, which will soon be forwarded to the governor, to keep the WNYCPC open and ensure the best possible treatment for children.

I urge all who care to contact Gov. Andrew Cuomo and ask him to right this wrong.

Patrick M. Gallivan

State Senator, 59th District

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