Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s aware that a bill is currently being discussed that would stop the merger of two Western New York psychiatric centers.
On Wednesday, he said in an exclusive interview that he does not have an update on the status of that bill.
"That is a topic that I know is being discussed by the officials who run both facilities, and I don't have any update on that," he said.
Time is running out to prevent the consolidation of the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center and the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.
Opponents believe merging the two centers would be harmful to patients.
Just last week, a billboard urging Cuomo to keep the children’s facility open appeared near Southwestern Boulevard and McKinley Parkway in Hamburg.
The billboard reads “Gov. Cuomo: Please keep the WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center OPEN. Sign the Bill. Save the Children.”
The sign was paid for by Friends of Tom Best, the Hamburg Highway Superintendent currently up for reelection.
In June, the state legislature unanimously passed a bill to keep the West Seneca facility open. Since then, more than 15,000 signatures have been collected by State Senator Pat Gallivan and Assemblyman Mickey Kearns, urging the two facilities to continue operating as separate centers.
Kearns and Gallivan are expected to present their bill to the governor this week. At that point, Cuomo will have 10 days to make a decision on what happens next.
A lawsuit also has been filed by the Save Our WNY CPC Coalition in an effort to legally prevent the merger from taking place. Last month, State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto denied a motion from the state attorney general that would have dismissed the case. Justice Panepinto determined the coalition has the legal standing to sue both the governor and the state’s mental health commissioner.
A court date has yet to be set for the case.