Weekly Feature

2017-08-10 / Front Page

Legislators seek public support to keep children’s center in West Seneca

Residents who believe the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center should continue to operate as a standalone facility in West Seneca are urged to contact Gov. Andrew Cuomo and ask him to sign legislation passed by the Senate and Assembly in June.

Assemblyman Michael Kearns and state Sen. Patrick Gallivan said the bill would block the merging of the children’s center with the Buffalo Psychiatric Center by requiring the facility to be operated as a separate and distinct entity both organizationally and physically.

According to a press release from the legislators, the legislation, sponsored by Gallivan and Kearns, passed both the Senate and the Assembly unanimously and will be sent to the governor for consideration.

“Before the bill gets to the governor’s desk, we want to make sure that he hears from residents who care about the treatment of vulnerable children and adolescents,” Gallivan said. “We can send a loud and clear message to the governor that the people of Western New York want him to do what is best for children and families. Keep the Children’s Psychiatric Center right where it is so that it can continue to provide the best possible treatment in a safe and tranquil environment.”

Gallivan said he is urging residents to sign an online petition calling on the governor to sign the bill to keep the West Seneca center open. The petition is available at savewnycpc.com. Residents are also encouraged to call or write the governor.

At the end of June, Kearns mailed surveys throughout his district. About 6,000 surveys in one month have been returned to the office. The assemblyman said the returned surveys are averaging 1,500 per week.

The survey, sent to the entire 142nd Assembly District on June, 30, asks residents, “Do you want Governor Cuomo to sign the bill to block the closing of the WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center?”

Of the 6,000 responses, 99.99 percent are urging Gov. Cuomo to sign legislation keeping the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center open and operating at its West Seneca facility.

“The outpouring of support from the community has been overwhelming,” Kearns said. “Elected officials send out surveys and petitions to gauge how the community feels about an issue. Never in my years as an elected representative have I seen such a clear and consistent response. It is apparent from the surveys and petitions that the [Western New York] community wants the WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center to stay in West Seneca, and we’re calling on Gov. Cuomo to listen to the people he represents.”

Advocates for the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center believe its rural location and school-like setting are beneficial to the treatment of young patients. They fear that moving services to an adult facility in an urban setting will jeopardize the safety and treatment of children and adolescents.

Kearns and Gallivan have also requested certified resolutions of support for the children’s center from municipalities across the state. In one month, about 20 legislative bodies, representing 76 elected officials, have passed certified resolutions of support. Locally, West Seneca, Orchard Park and the Erie County Legislature have approved the resolution.

“I can’t believe that the governor is threatening to shut down this facility. The WNYCPC is rated in the top 10 percent of children’s psychiatric facilities in the nation and has helped countless children throughout the decades that it’s been in operation,” said Assemblyman David DiPietro. “Gov. Cuomo would rather send these fragile children to a facility in Buffalo that treats adults. That’s not looking out for our children, that is just dangerous.”

Legislators have worked with patients, families, mental health experts and others during the past several years to keep open the Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca.

According to legislators, the facility received a 99.9 percent rating by the Joint Commission on Accredited Health Care Organizations and is listed among the top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation accredited by the Joint Commission.

Furthermore, medical experts have stated that youth and adolescents need to be treated separately from adults to receive the best care possible, the release said.

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