Western New York lawmakers are calling on New York State to finalize its decision to keep the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center permanently open in West Seneca.
Speaking on behalf of the Western New York delegation, Assemblymember Michael Kearns cited an incident last week in which a 14-year-old Buffalo girl was attacked at her home by an adult outpatient from the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. He said it underscores the urgency of the matter.
"Unfortunately, this adult outpatient went on a porch and attacked a 14-year-old girl and almost killed her and, through people I've heard from, asked 'Did I kill this person?'" Kearns said. "To me it just makes the case that the Children's Psychiatric Center should remain permanently in West Seneca."
In a letter to state Mental Health Commissioner Ann Marie Sullivan, the delegation said they fear transferring the children's population from West Seneca to the adult facility on Forest Avenue in Buffalo, as the state has announced, would be too dangerous for the kids. The South Buffalo native, whose brother has been in state psychiatric care for many years, said each year lawmakers have to lobby Albany to keep funding for the West Seneca facility in New York's budget.
Although the state wants to sell the plot of land on which the center is located, Kearns said families have expressed their strong support for keeping the East and West Road facility open. He said the center serves all eight counties of Western New York and has the lowest re-hospitalization rate in New York, treating patients ages 4-17 in a family-centered, trauma-sensitive environment. Kearns said the benefits of care for kids in a rural setting are proven.
"When you talk to clinicians, there was a reason why they moved the Children's Psychiatric Center to a more rural area. It helped in their therapy, it helped in their recovery," Kearns said. "It's rated, if not the top, among the top facilities in the state."