BN: NYS Moving WNY Children's Psychiatric Center To Buffalo Psych Center

State Moves Ahead With Plans To Move Children's Psychiatric Center To Buffalo Psych Center
Harold McNeil The Buffalo News November 23, 2016

The New York State Office of Mental Health Tuesday announced it is going ahead with plans to close the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center in West Seneca and move its facilities to the grounds of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, off Elmwood and Forest avenues in the city.

The agency is already seeking solicitations from construction companies to do work on the project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2018,saidBenjamin Rosen, a spokesman for the Office of Mental Health.

"That means we're building a new state-of-the-art, children's in-patient unit inside of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center," Rosen said. "It will be completely separate and secure from the other adult services on the grounds."

Plans for the move have been a bone of contention with theSave Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center Coalition, whose members have expressed concerns about the safety of co-mingling children and adult patients in one facility. State officials, however, said those concerns have been thoroughly reviewed and addressed in the new plan.

"There will be no co-mingling of adults and children at our facility," said Ed Kileen, director of administrative support services for the Office of Mental Health.

"There will be a separate entrance. There are separate program spaces, dining facilities, residential facilities, and there is a completely separate outdoor recreation space (for the juvenile in-patients)," Kileen added.

Rosen said state officials met several times with the Save Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center Coalition to hear and address some of the group's concerns.

"We tried to be as open and transparent as possible on this. We're really showing that we're listening and that we're trying to create the mental health system of the future, a system that helps prevent avoidable inpatient hospitalizations through increased community-based services, so they can get the help they need in the community and stay close to their families, friends and natural support networks," said Rosen.

State officials said the result of the move and merge will be improved access to care and increasing the availability of outpatient mental health services. In addition, officials expect to see about a$4 million a year savings as a result of the relocation.

"Those are administrative savings related to the cost of running two psychiatric centers that are 13 miles apart," said Rosen.

There are plans to re-invest about $3.2 million of that savings into community-based mental health programs in the region, $1.7 million of which has already been re-invested into mobile mental health services and the expansion of outpatient clinic services.

"Those services will allow us to serve up to 1,000 new children and families in Western New York. We've already served over 500 of them," said Rosen.

"In this move, we are keeping the same number of beds, which is 46. All the same staff will be coming and delivering the same high-quality services that they do now in the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center," he added.

State officials said he majority of kids who receive services at Wester New York Children's Psychiatric Center are from Buffalo, followed by clients from Niagara and Monroe counties.

"This is actually the culmination of a lengthy public engagement process where we had a number of public meetings on our capital plan, and also used stakeholders to really inform the services this will create in the community, and the capital plan itself. That is, what they really wanted to see in a state-of-the-art mental health facility," stakeholders included mental health professionals, families and even opponents of the merger were all a part of the general review process, the design and service ideas," said Kileen.

Local elected officials and other groups have been apprised of plans for the move, state officials said.