NYAPRS Note: A coalition of NYS mental health advocacy groups conducted an Albany news conference to demonstrate unified, strong support for the state’s plan to reconfigure state mental health services by moving from 24 to 15 state hospitals and moving state jobs and creating new nonprofit positions to create much more proactive, responsive and effective local mental health service systems (see attached news release).
Our story was covered by the prominent print, radio and TV news services below.
Capitol Pressroom December 16, 2013
Glenn Liebman and Briana Gilmore represent mental health advocacy groups that support the changes the Cuomo administration is making to the state’s mental health services.
Some Advocates Supportive of Mental Health Center Plans
Capital Tonight YNN Network December 16, 2013 9:05 PM
There’s been a lot of pushback against the Office of Mental Health’s plan to consolidate psychiatric centers. Opponents argue that fewer sites means it will be harder for people to get treatment. But the reconfiguration also has a lot of support among mental health advocates.
Harvey Rosenthal of the New York State Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services and Glenn Liebman of Mental Health Association in New York State joined us to discuss.
TimeWarner subscribers can watch this interview at
State Plans $72M Toward Mental Health Care in Binghamton and Elmira Areas
By Joseph Spector Gannett News Service December 16, 2013
ALBANY — The state is proposing to allocate $72 million to establish community hubs to replace mental-health hospitals that are set to close in the Southern Tier and across the state, advocates said Monday.
The money would be used to expand community services and save the hundreds of jobs that could be at risk when the hospitals close next year, according to draft plans developed by the state Office of Mental Health.
Mental-health advocates backed the proposal released last week, and job losses are not expected as the state consolidates its 24 mental hospitals into 15 regional centers over three years.
“Too often, states close things and then try to build up services,” said Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the state Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. “This is a commitment to pre-investing and putting up services in advance of downsizing.”
Southern Tier lawmakers have been battling to keep open the Greater Binghamton Health Center, the Elmira Psychiatric Center and the Broome Developmental Center.
Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, introduced legislation last month in the Senate that would postpone any closures until April 2015.
Assemblywoman Donna A. Lupardo, D-Endwell, also introduced similar legislation in the Assembly. “While I appreciate that additional resources are earmarked for outpatient services, it is inconceivable that there will be no inpatient beds in the entire Southern Tier,” said Lupardo.
Libous said Monday that he supports, in theory, the state’s proposal. But too often, he said, the state aid isn’t tied to patient care as originally outlined. He said a similar plan failed in the early 1990s.
“It was designed to have the money follow the patient in the community. Unfortunately, it never happened,” Libous described. “The money stayed as a savings to the state coffers.”
As part of the changes, a Rochester psychiatric hospital will transform to a regional forensic facility, treating mentally ill people in the criminal justice system. The Rochester hospital that’s closing had 542 employees earlier this year, records showed.
Regional centers are set to be established in Albany, Syracuse, Utica and Rockland County, as well as in New York City and Long Island.
Libous said part of the problem is that local services would move to other parts of the state, such as a children’s inpatient unit in Binghamton that would move to Utica.
The Greater Binghamton Health Center has about 370 employees and houses about 90 adults and 15 children. The Elmira Psychiatric Center has about 360 employees, while 70 adults and 20 children are housed there.
The state’s proposal would provide help to 7,000 patients through community services, both inpatient and outpatient, as well as direct additional Medicaid money for mental-health programs.
There was no immediate comment Monday from the state Office of Mental Health.
When its recommendations were released in July, the state indicated that employees would be relocated, offered other employment in the community or retrained.
“We are committed to continuity of employment for our workforce,” the proposal said.
Support For NY Hospital Closures Sought
By Kyle Hughes, NYSNYS News December 16, 2013
ALBANY >> Advocates for the mentally ill urged legislators Monday to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to save $72 million by closing psychiatric hospitals, noting that even after that happens New York will have more than other states.
“This is not just about closing hospitals, it is about restructuring our system,” said Briana Gilmore of NYAPRS, a group advocating on behalf of psychiatric patients. The group says New York now spends more money on mental hospitals treating fewer people than the next two or three states combined.
Cuomo has proposed providing $25 million next year in savings from hospital closings for community mental health programs, closing 9 of the 24 now operating.
“It’s important to recognize that if the state’s plan goes through and we go down to 15 hospitals, that will still be two to three times more other states in the union,” NYAPRS Harvey Rosenthal said Monday. “Certainly we have the most and will continue to have the most state hospitals.”
Closing state institutions has faced opposition from public employee unions and their allies in the legislature who say the mentally ill will end up homeless or in jail without the state beds to take them. But the advocates said Monday it is abundantly clear that the move from in-patient hospitalization to community programs benefits everyone.
While the 2014-15 budget is not out until January, “everybody we’ve talked to said they are committed to moving forward on this,” Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association in NYS said.
The plan calls for the money spent on the now largely empty hospitals to be funneled to community programs, including a network of regional treatment centers intended to help the mentally ill without institutionalizing them.
“This plan is not occurring in a silo,” Gilmore said. “We are in the midst of a major restructuring of the way in which we approach healthcare in our provider system, and through the Medicaid Redesign project, through pressures coming from the Affordable Care Act and through our Olmstead obligations we need to understand the best way to serve people is through a recovery focused community based (system).”
In hopes of winning passage of the plan, provisions are included to protect the jobs of union workers in the hospitals, retraining them for working in a community setting.