Supporters of WNY Children's Psych Center Continue Fight in Albany
WEST SENECA, N.Y. -- On Thursday, advocates of the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center made sure to show state lawmakers where patients are being treated currently and where the State Office of Mental Health plans to move them, since the move from West Seneca to Buffalo could mean an extra 10 mile travel distance and a drastically-altered environment for some patients.
"The amount of traffic, the amount of noise, it's just a totally different world compared to the West Seneca Campus," said Scott Dobe, an advocate of the Children's Psychiatric Center.
However, OMH is moving forward with its plan to relocate the young patients to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center campus, where adults are treated. It says savings from the move will allow it to serve an additional 1,000 children in the community.
But those opposed to the plan say the environment in Buffalo will be detrimental to the children's treatment.
So members of the Save Our WNY CPC group brought their message to Albany Tuesday, and met with 16 members of the state legislature.
"Every single one of those politicians were very accommodating to us, very supportive of us," said Dobe, "To put our story to a face, it was a great connection to see the support that we have across the state."
"They did an awesome job advocating, they met with many, many of my colleagues. We appreciate that, and it's just so, so important," said Assemblyman Mickey Kearns, D-Buffalo.
And as the state budget deadline approaches, Kearns and Sen. Patrick Gallivan are taking action of their own.
They've each introduced legislation that would amend the state's mental hygiene law to prohibit the merger and require that the CPC stay a separate entity.
"I'm hopeful that it will be part of the budget, or at the very least it's the beginning of a discussion to be utilized to get what we want, a decision by the governor to keep the facility open," said Kearns. "For me, this is so personal now, that you know, this is my number one priority."
And advocates say they'll return to Albany multiple times if they have to.
"We're ready to do whatever it takes to get this message across," said Dobe.