WEST SENECA, N.Y. -- After years of fighting for funding, a blow was dealt Tuesday to community members and officials who worked to keep the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center in West Seneca open. The state Office of Mental Health announced plans to move the children's center to the campus of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center are proceeding.
Carly Congilosi is no stranger to the grounds along Hope Drive. She's been here as a patient, as an intern, and Tuesday, she returned as an advocate.
"We shouldn't have to fight to keep it open. This shouldn't even be happening right now," she said.
Many connected with the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center, like state Sen. Patrick Gallivan, echoed that disbelief.
"The center here has the best outcomes in the state, the lowest reinstitutionalization rate in the state. It's a credit to the people that work here, it's a credit to the families, it's a credit to the community," said Gallivan, R-Elma.
The new children's center will be state-of-the-art, according to OMH. All staff will be transferred, the project will make an extra $3.2 million in yearly funding available plus help the office reach as many as 1,000 new patients.
Those against closing CPC say children and adult patients shouldn't be housed on the same campus.
"They're going to look at these adults and they're going to think, 'This is what my life is going to be like. I'm going to be in and out of institutions my whole life. My identity is my diagnosis,' and that's not the case," said Congilosi.
OMH states that the new children's unit will be secure, completely separate from adults, and registered sex offenders will be transferred off campus before child patients are relocated. OMH is currently soliciting construction bids. It expects to open the new unit in about two years.
CPC supporters, in the meantime, plan to keep fighting to keep the doors open in West Seneca and keep hope alive.