BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Psychiatric Center has undergone $8 million in renovations. How the revamped space will be used is now in question, but some say there's a solution that could save lives.
Original plans called for a merger of the facility with the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center, eventually bringing children to the campus in Buffalo. However, Gov. Cuomo reversed his decision last month by keeping the children's center at its current location in West Seneca. Cuomo vetoed a bill last year which would've prevented the New York State Office of Mental Health from merging the two. Supporters of the WNY CPC also sued Cuomo and the state's mental health commissioner in their years-long effort to keep it open.
The reversal leaves four floors potentially open at the Buffalo site, which offers a variety of mental health services for adults. State Sen. Pat Gallivan, R-Elma, says it would be a good idea utilize the space to help people fighting addiction to heroin and opioids.
"I think the ideal use is for some form of opioid treatment center," Gallivan said. "It could be inpatient. It could be outpatient. But they already have an alcohol treatment center on campus they do very well with. It's on a bus line. It's easily accessible."
Janet Gaskin agrees with Gallivan's idea. She's a case worker at Save the Michaels of the World, an agency that helps addicts and their families find the help they need. Oftentimes, they have to send people to other parts of the state for treatment.
“I think if we had more facilities close by where families could be a part of their loved one’s recovery, I think everyone would be much more successful. The success rate goes off the charts when families are able to be involved in their loved one’s recovery,” said Gaskin.
She has seen this story evolve from many angles. Her daughter was once a patient at the Children's Psychiatric Center.
"What a win-win. We kept CPC where it's at. And if we can use that space over there to continue to fight this epidemic, I think it would just be fabulous for everyone that's involved,” said Gaskin.
A spokesperson for the State Office of Mental Health says it's currently exploring alternatives for the site but no final decision has been made.